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Change of approach the winning card for Mqabba

Action from the match between Mqabba and St George’s. Photo: Mark Zammit Cordina


Despite a stressful first half, in which Mqabba were forced to make three substitutions due to injury, and nearly went a goal down but for a fine save by Jonathan Grech from the spot, Alfred Attard’s side managed to take all three points against St George’s with a second-half goal at the Centenary Stadium on Monday.

It was a battle at the lower ends of the standings, but Mqabba now climb into the top ten on nine points while the Cottonera side remain stuck in last place with only one point.

Mqabba mentor Attard told The Times of Malta that the change of approach in the second half was key to their improved performance.

“The mistake was my own – tactically we prepared for the game so that we can press high and with a 4-3-3 formation, we were getting caught out and St George’s were causing us a lot of trouble,” Attard said.

“After half-time, we began to wait for them five metres away from our half and through our counterattack, we managed to get the goal and could have scored more.

“Our objective is to end up in the top ten. It’s tough, for any team, but we prepared for today’s game with five missing players due to COVID-19. When you’re preparing for such a game with missing players, it makes life much harder.”

On the other hand, St George’s coach Demis Scerri rued his team’s first half missed chances which he says could have decided the game.

“We should have closed off the game in the first half, but we did not take the opportunities that we had when we were better than our opponents,” the former Tarxien Rainbows coach said.

“In the first half, we had more possession. In the second, Mqabba were a bit better than us, not necessarily dangerous but they had more of the ball. To concede from an individual mistake like we did is tough, but these things happen. Obviously, we need to work harder because it has become even tougher.

“We’re working hard on our tactics but unfortunately, some of our foreign players are not up to par. We need to keep on working and improving collectively.”

The highlight of the first half was surely the redemption of Mqabba goalkeeper Grech from the spot after he charged onto St George’s forward Dylan Caruana inside the first quarter.

Grech did well to anticipate Caruana’s penalty and keep his side’s hopes alive, especially as until then, it was the Blues who had been on top both in terms of possession and offence.

This pressure reached its climax on the half hour as within four minutes, Mqabba suffered three injuries which saw spotkick hero Grech, Kurt Borg and Fabrizio Zammit taken off.

Attard emphasised that even though the injuries are ones of rough play, it is still concerning.

“These were not injuries which are strains or those I usually call injuries stemming from lack of preparation, so we need to be clear. The Kurt Borg injury might be lengthy, but the important thing is none of the injuries were strains,” Attard said.

The second half was a different story for Mqabba as they took control and threatened twice but both attempts went over.

On the hour substitute Maverick Buhagiar picked Ryan Cauchi who outmuscled his marker and hit a shot that was tipped over by Julian Azzopardi.

Mqabba were not to be denied however, as on 77 minutes, from a similar action, Johan Castano opted to lay the ball to substitute Gianfranco Micallef whose shot spun into the back of the net.

MQABBA: J. Grech (30 M. Buhagiar), L. Farrugia, G. Mannino, R. Cauchi, J. Castano, R. Cutajar (90 J. Azzopardi), K. Borg (34 B. Sciberras), F. Zammit (30 G. Micallef), D. Micallef, G. Cesani, G. Bugeja.
ST. GEORGE’S: J. Azzopardi, M. Caruana, R. Mandic, L. Bonett, D. Caruana, B. Gomes, S. Darmanin, L. Agius (85 F. Lufi), O. Magro (72 A. Hili), K. Ekeh (90 D. Serna), J. Grech.
Referee: Alex Johnson
Best player: Gianfranco Micallef (Mqabba).



QRENDI: D. Zarb, L. Martinelli, J. Busuttil (54 J. Cachia), A. Nilsson (28 N. Pabon), D. Sammut (87 D. Vassallo), A. Agius, D. Bueno (87 D. Zarb), E. Vella, S. Perdomo, D. Azzopardi, M. Gatt.
PEMBROKE ATHLETA: P. Schranz, A. Marshall (61 J. Ogunuppe), K. Farrugia, D. Sant, K. Frendo, P. santos (71 N. Grech), A. Temitope, T. Fenech, J. Bajada, M. Brincat (71 N. Grech), K. Aquilina (61 G. Attard).
Referee: Slobodan Petrovic.
Scorers: Brincat (P) 7; Bueno (Q) 47, 53; Temitope (P) 90.


MARSAXLOKK: F. Tabone, C. Degabriele, G. Barone (46 J. Morales), N. Ghio, D. Cartella (46 J. Spiteri), P. Doffo, I. Paz, D. Sammut (46 B. Sciberras), C. Brincat, P. Xuereb, R. Fenech (76 Z. Mifsud).
NAXXAR LIONS: O. Borg, A. Azzopardi (87 B. Schembri), M. Fenech, M. Mifsud, E. Farias, A. Azzopardi, R. Cassar, J. Ellul, T. Battaglia, S. Meilak, B. Essel (16 F. Zuniga).
Referee: Daniel Casha
Scorer: Ellul 62.


MARSA: N. Vella, P. Chircop (49 J. Galea), J. Bondin, A. Monticelli, M. Micallef, J. Lima (73 I. Zammit), F. Gusman (73 L. Grech), D. Grima, P. Teixeira, G. McKay (43 C. Gatt Baldacchino), L. Micallef (73 R. Coehlo).
SAN ĠWANN: C. Formosa, J. Bowman, D. Fava (58 N. Sultana), C. Gauci, P. Kanzurov (67 N. Abouaisha), O. Spiteri, Z. Bowman, A. Zammit, C. Omoruanzoje (75 D. Misud), C. Gauci, G. Pace (58 N. Sultana).
Referee: Aleksandar Jovanovic.
Scorers: Micallef 36, 53; Teixeira 45.


FGURA: B. Bartolo, J. Stensen, JP. Attard (77 O. Mifsud), G. Martin (83 S. Abela), S. Nanapere, J. Vella, J. Cassar (64 T. Grech), S. Borg, R. Zammit (46 J. Barbara), N. Ojuola, G. Galea (77 M. Vella).
VITTORIOSA STARS: R. Marmara, C. Spiteri, I. Curmi (69 Q. Bregman), G. Sultana (83 S. Grech), J. Farrugia, D. Soatey, A. Galea, R. Previ, A. Oularbi (69 L. de Melo), R. Farias (75 A. Mufmord), D. Castaldi (83 A. Sultana).
Referee: Slawomir Olucha
Scorers: Nanapere (F) 12; Farias (V) 38; Sultana (V) 53; Ojuola (F) 71 og.


QORMI: M. Falzon (64 J. Vella), O. Sidibe, G. Sammut (41 R. Caruana), D. Perassolli, I. Micallef, N. Meli, J. Mizzi, I. Mizzi, N. Gauci, L. Azzopardi (64 L. Mallia), L. Theuma (87 A. Bonnici).
ŻEBBUĠ RANGERS: M. Grech, J. Micallef, T. Bartolo (66 A. Mizzi), L. Mijic, J. Silveira (43 S. Miloskovic), C. Gauci, R. Vella, K. Bondin (66 A. Mizzi), G. Gesualdi, K. Tanti, J. Carbone.
Referee: Sandro Spiteri.
Scorers: Gauci (Ż) 55; Micallef (Z) 75 og.


SWIEQI UNITED: J. Debattista, M. Attard, J. Magro Overend, S. Elfarsi, J. Micallef (66 M. Camilleri), J. Willy, I. Salis (78 T. Ayorinde), A. Schembri Wismayer (89 I. Micallef), M. Vella, F. Temile, J. Azzopardi.
ST ANDREWS: N. Grima, M. D’Alessandro, L. Grech, M. Vella Vidal (81 J. Valletta), J. Farrugia, R. Micallef Decesare, M. Bartolo (89 Z. Muscat), S. Cassar Torregiani, A. Borg Olivier, J. Sixsmith (69 N. Bradshaw), D. Jackson.
Referee: Ezekiel Barbara.
Scorer: Camilleri 82.

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