Valletta will keep fighting for the title, says Doncic Published on: 27-02-2018

Balzan were the biggest winners of Matchday 20 in the BOV Premier League as the championsip leaders moved three points clear of nearest rivals Valletta who could only manage a goalless draw against Birkirkara.

The Reds broke little sweat to overcome Lija Athletic on Saturday to pile up the pressure on the Citizens ahead of their key clash against Birkirkara.

On Sunday, Valleta took the ground running and held the edge over the Stripes for much of the match, creating at least three clearcut scoring chances during the first half.

However, as had happened in their direct clash against Balzan, Valletta could not find a way past Birkirkara goalkeeper Kristjan Naumovski who produced a very impressive display.

Valletta coach Danilo Doncic was clearly not a happy man at the end of the match.

“I cannot be pleased with the final result as despite dominating the match we could not find a breaktbhrough and that is very disappointing,” the Serbian coach told Times of Malta.

“Sunday’s match was a carbon copy of our games against Balzan and Sliema Wanderers where we attacked a lot, controlled the match but lacked cutting edge upfront. It’s a very frustrating situation as we are now relying on what Balzan will do in the next few matches.”

Valletta will now hope to put their title challenge back on track with a win over Tarxien this weekend and hope Balzan drop some points against Gżira next Monday. Despite the difficult scenario, Doncic said that Valletta will keep fighting for the title till the end.

“It’s a difficult position to be in but we need to keep believing and give our 100 per cent,” Doncic said. “There are six matches still to go and anything can happen. It’s important now that we regroup and focus on our next match. We must make sure that we get the three points so if Balzan slip up we can bridge the gap.

“There is still a lot of football to be played but there is no doubt that we have to win all our remaining matches if we are to remain in contention for the title.”

While Sunday’s stalemate damaged Valletta’s title chances, for Birkirkara the draw left them engaged in four-way fight for third place in the standings, which would guarantee them a place in the Europa League qualifiers next summer.

Birkirkara are sharing third spot with Gżira United on 38 points, two ahead of Hibernians and four clear of Floriana.

Paul Zammit, the Birkirkara coach, said that the final result was the worst scenario for both sides on Sunday but believes it was a good learning curve for his players.

“After going on a run of 11 matches without defeat, the match against Valletta was the perfect test to see how far we could go,” Zammit said.

“We started the match very well, pressing hard our opponents and creating two good opportunities. But then two lapses of concentration handed Valletta two one-onone situations and from then the team seemed like dropping their heads.

“When you look at our team we had some young players who have never been involved in such top clashes and surely they will learn a lot from Sunday’s match.

“Although we are disappointed with the final result, as we badly wanted the win, this match will surely make us stronger.”

Zammit said that Birkirkara’s main goal now has to be a top three finish and said that his players must remain focused as the pressure will inevitably increase with every match that is played.

“The goal we set in December was very clear, to try and cement our places among the top three teams in the standings,” the Birkirkara coach said.

“We are one of four teams fighting for a place in Europe and every point won is crucial in what is turning out to be a very tight race.

“It’s important that we maintain our level of consistency as there will be pressure on us with every match that we play. It’s important that we are ready to contend with every situation that we find ourselves in.”

Source - Times of Malta