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Birkirkara women captain Stephania Farrugia pleased with game progress

The women’s league will return this week with three fixtures following the international break in which the Malta women’s national team took centre stage with two away victories at Georgia and Israel that capped a record-breaking UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 qualifying campaign.

This week’s games will also see champions Birkirkara return to action after an absence of over a month as they take on Swieqi United in an important direct clash.

For Birkirkara, this will be the first match since their 3-0 win over Mġarr United on October 27.

A UEFA Women’s Champions League trip to Romania and the postponement of three league games due to the coronavirus pandemic after their Mġarr victory, the Stripes are now having to play four games in just 13 days, starting from tonight’s tie against the Oranges.

Led by Melania Bajada, the Stripes currently sit in fourth position with nine points after their opening three wins. They have scored 17 goals and are the only team to have recorded a clean sheet in every game they have been involved in.

A defensive record which sheds light on the enormous contribution that skipper Stephania Farrugia gives to the team alongside her fellow defenders and goalkeeper Janice Xuereb between the sticks.

The 29-year-old player has been a key figure in the Stripes’ domestic triumphs in recent years.

Farrugia is once again determined to lead Birkirkara to another championship, with the Swieqi game indicated as a crucial clash as this will be their first game after over a month and the first of four games squeezed into just a couple of weeks.

“The fact that we have a congested calendar could be both a positive and a negative factor for us,” Farrugia told the Times of Malta.

“It could be beneficial for us because if we play back-to-back games it will enable us to recover the match fitness that we may have lost due to the lack of action over the past weeks.

“On the other hand, obviously it adds to the risk of injuries but at the same time I believe that we are physical prepared and I am sure that my team will be able to put up a solid performance and carry on with our momentum.”

Despite Birkirkara having no league games, Farrugia did not skip a minute of action during the international break as she was at heart of the backline in Malta’s historic wins in Tbilisi and Tel-Aviv.

A couple of rock-solid performances at the back helped the Maltese to record two clean sheets in both encounters.

“We were aware of the difficulty of both games awaiting us,” Farrugia explained.

“Nonetheless, we knew that if we would implement our game, we would be able to draw positive results in both games that would help us make history.”

Asked about her defensive partnership with Charlene Zammit and Emma Lipman, Farrugia heaped praise on the collectiveness that this team is showing game after game.

“On a personal level, I feel that I gave my utmost to help my team and the harmony in our group has prevailed as we were able to overcome the hurdles ahead of us,” she said.

“At the same time, these games are helping us to gain more experience that will suit us in the upcoming international commitments.”

Prior to the Georgia and Israel trips, Farrugia had captained Birkirkara in their heart-breaking 2-1 defeat at the hands of Cluj in the UEFA Women’s Champions League.

Despite the defeat, the Malta international pointed out that the Champions League game and the Women’s Euro qualifiers have continued to shed light on the progress of the women’s game here.

“The Cluj game was a memorable one for me and for my team,” she said.

“It was an emotional game where we showed our abilities and I have to say that we, women players, are showing progress because such games reflect our commitment to this game.

“There’s always room for improvement, though, and I hope that the players, clubs and authorities continue in this direction to enable women’s football to make another leap of quality.”

Kirkop United vs Mtarfa 5-3
Mosta vs Mġarr United 1-9
Birkirkara vs Swieqi United 20.30

MD8 bye: Raiders Għargħur.

Mġarr United 16; Swieqi United 13; Kirkop United 12; Birkirkara 9; Raiders 6; Mosta 3; Mtarfa 0.

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