Seven matches into the new season, the battle for a spot in the top part of the standings remains the focus of every team.
While Sliema Wanderers and Naxxar Lions have shown their strengths with an incredible opening to the season, the
middle of the table hosts the greatest fight of them all.
With no less than seven teams currently on eight points in mid-table, every point matters and San Ġwann coach Ramon Zammit believes that focusing on every opponent will be crucial to making the Championship Pool.
“As expected, the season will be a very tough one, maybe the toughest in the last years,” Zammit told the Times of Malta.
“The final 12-team group out of which half will get relegated, is a scare for every team, meaning that every team will do whatever it takes to win matches and get as many points as possible in this first round.
“Every match is a final and believe me, all teams are well prepared. Every opponent is tough.
“We consider ourselves to have had a decent start – yes we can argue of deserving another two or three points, but we could have lost points in other matches too.”
One interesting element of the San Ġwann football club is its emphasis on youth players. With a youth academy that promotes numerous players to the club’s senior squad every year, Zammit admits it brings a lot of attention from other clubs.
“We are very proud of having had a great end to the previous season with only one defeat in nine matches. However, this brought a lot of attention to our youngsters who attracted the eye of better clubs,” He said.
“We lost 14 players and so had to re-build a new group and mould this into a team. It’s not an easy task, but our football philosophy is sinking in nicely and we can see this in our performances.”
San Ġwann have since brought in other players like Mateus Lucena from relegated Senglea Athletic who has been on form for the club so far.
But their focus remains on promoting young players and Zammit admits that while they are valid players, they might go through certain difficulties in the Challenge League.
In turn, they needed to push harder against Marsa at the weekend, a tightly-contested fixture that saw both sides take a point after a 2-2 draw.
“We need to talk about facing our opponents in the right frame of mind. This is what we lacked against Sliema, but we played with more personality against a strong team as Marsa,” he said.
“This is part of the package when dealing with youngsters. We accept it, but we also work on it. On average, eight out of the starting 11 are still eligible for the Under-19s, whilst three others played for the Under-17s last season.
“We love working with youths as we believe in their qualities, but we are also aware of the fact that when facing certain teams, these youngsters find it difficult. Against Marsa we played gallantly, and we are happy for that.”
The team in 13th place now faces a struggling Qrendi side next on Saturday, the latter sitting on just the one point after seven matches but Zammit believes they are harder than they seem.
“Every game is of utmost importance as it offers three valuable points,” he explained.
“We do not look at the table of standings as this can change so easily. We choose to focus on our next opponents, the same way we do on every other team. Some teams might look weaker just because they lay low, but it also depends on whom they have played. Qrendi are a very strong team.
“I have watched them play on several occasions and I can say that at times they really deserved better. We need to be at our best to beat them.
“Our aim is to win enough points to place with the top six, if not, we will keep fighting to retain a place in Challenge League.”
Lija Athletic vs Vittoriosa Stars 2-0
Naxxar Lions Żejtun Corinthians 3-2
Mqabba vs Qrendi 2-0
Marsaskala vs Mtarfa 3-1
San Ġwann vs Marsa 2-2
Tarxien Rainbows vs Fgura Utd 2-1
Melita vs Sliema Wanderers 0-1
Żurrieq vs Attard 1-2
Swieqi Utd vs St Andrews 0-2
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