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Pressure of a large squad is healthy, says Marsa’s Micallef

Marsa’s Manolito Micallef (right) tackles Jairo Andres Tenorio. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli


Marsa produced a second half comeback to beat Naxxar Lions 4-1 at the Victor Tedesco Stadium on Sunday.

Ivan Zammit’s clan looked the more dominant side throughout the match but only came out on top after taking their chances after the break.

Despite making major changes to both the squad and coaching staff, bringing in Zammit from Vittoriosa Stars over the summer to mentor the side, Marsa have struggled to make the impact they were predicted to make from the get-go.

Added to that, the squad was put into quarantine for the past few weeks and now must fit in more games into their already congested schedule.

Speaking to the Times of Malta, captain Manolito Micallef said these will be trying times for the squad.

“We’ve had the whole squad in quarantine and naturally, it’s a difficult moment for us. When we returned to training, we had only a short period of time to recover both physically and mentally,” Micallef said.

“Even though we controlled the game, we found ourselves a goal down from a set-piece which caused a good goal so Naxxar deserve all credit for it. But we believed we could score.

“Until we got the first goal, I think we were calm but once we scored, we took control and got the three points we wanted.”

The win, which pushes Marsa into 11th place on six points after having played only four matches, was a confidence booster for Marsa and Micallef admitted that having 17 new players is not easy.

“We had a change in coaching staff and we have a large squad of 25 valid players, and because of this, we don’t have a first 11, or foreign players who are always in the lineup,” the former Floriana player said.

“It’s not easy, but also not that hard. I think it’s healthy for the team, to have a strong squad. Having some competition from game to game in terms of who will be playing is healthy because we work harder.”

Zammit’s clan took control of possession from the start but even though Naxxar exploited this early offensive by going on occasional counter attacks, none of the sides’ shotstoppers were threatened.

This changed after the half-hour as both sides began to settle in and it was Naxxar’s Omar Borg who was put to the test first as Leighton Grech sped into the area and tipped a pass inward but Patrick Teixeira’s shot was pushed away by Borg. The ball fell to Paul Lapira but the latter was adjudged offside.

Marsa paid for this as Naxxar opened proceedings four minutes before the break. When Erikys Ferreira was fouled outside the area, Joel Ellul hit a freekick which Micallef headed away for a corner. From the resultant kick, Nicky Vella had no chance of stopping Ferreira’s header at the first post.

The visitors affected two changes at the change of ends, bringing on Paulo Santos For Antonio Monticelli and Lydon Micallef who replaced Lapira.

This, in turn, was a great move by Zammit as from a Santos shot, deflected into a corner, Marsa’s Teixeira went on to head in the equaliser just after the hour.

They doubled 10 minutes later with an identical goal, this time by Santos himself.

Lydon Micallef made it three on 83 minutes with yet another header. A pinpoint cross found the former Balzan forward unmarked inside the area and his header was strong enough to beat Borg.

Marsa were not finished yet as five minutes from time, substitute Santos beat his marker on the right, and as Borg overcommitted, the ball crept on and Lydon Micallef got his second goal of the afternoon.

To make matters worse for Naxxar, goalscorer Ferreira got his marching orders a few minutes later for retaliation.

MARSA: N. Vella, P. Chircop (46 J. Galea), J. Bondin, P. Lapira (46 P. Santos), A. Monticelli (L. Micallef), M. Micallef, J. Lima (72 R. Coelho), D. Grima, P. Teixeira, L. Grech (61 G. McKay), F. Gusman.
NAXXAR LIONS: O. Borg, M. Fenech, E. Ferreira, G. Xuereb (83 J. Sciberras), A. Azzopardi, R. Cassar, J. Ellul, A. Tenorio (58 T. Battaglia), F. Zuniga, S. Meilak.
Referee: Slobodan Petrovic.
Best Player: Lydon Micallef (Marsa).
Red card: Ferreira (N) 88.



MQABBA: J. Grech, L. Farrugia (82 R. Cauchi), N. Falzon (90 B. Sciberras), G. Mannino, J. Castano, K. Cutajar, R. Spiteri, D. Micallef, G. Cesani, R. Cutajar (70 G. Micallef), G. Bugeja (82 F. Zammit).
MARSAXLOKK: F. Tabone, C. Degabriele, J. Morales, G. Barone, P. Doffo, JP. Mifsud Triganza (91 M. Borg Bartolo), J. Cabral (82 I. Paz), J. Spiteri (16 B. Sciberras), C. Brincat, P. Xuereb, R. Fenech (82 D. Sammut).
Referee: Slawomir Olucha.
Scorer: Xuereb 63.


MARSAXLOKK: F. Tabone, C. Degabriele, P. Doffo (86 D. Cartella), J. Morales, C. Brincat, G. Barone (82 Z. Mifsud), P. Xuereb (75 JP. Mifsud Triganza), B. Sciberras, J. Spiteri, R. Fenech (75 I. Paz), J. Cabral (D. Sammut).
FGURA UNITED: B. Bartolo, J. Cassar, J. Stensen, J. Vella, J. Barbara, R. Zammit (75 JP Attard), N. Ojuola, D. Quintero (75 S. Borg), T. Grech (75 C. Ciantar), S. Hili (61 G. Martin), G. Galea (61 S. Nanapere).
Referee: Aleksandar Jovanovic
Scorers: Cabral (M) 11, 70; Fenech (M) 72; Martin (G) 86.


PIETÀ HOTSPURS: M. Chetcuti, S. Okoh, S. Mizzi (46 J. Ghio), L. Cassar Jackson, C. Bouvet, J. Irimiya, Z. Leonardi, N. Pace Cocks (88 S. Pisani), J. Scicluna (90 G. Borg), D. Segura, C. Ze Lucas.
Marsa: K. Brincat, M. Busuttil (53 F. Gusman), C. Gatt Baldacchino (71 S. Diacono), D. Grima, M. Micallef, G. McKay, R. Coelho, J. Lima, L. Grech (71 J. Galea), L. Micallef (46 P. Lapira), P. Santos.
Referee: Glenn Tonna
Scorers: Micallef (M) 6; Ze Lucas (P) 11 pen.; Scicluna (P) 21; Pace Cocks (P) 45; Segura (P) 70.

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