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Watch: European group stages is Portelli’s priority after Ħamrun Spartans’ title success

oseph Portelli celebrates with the Ħamrun Spartans fans on Saturday. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Joseph Portelli is determined to lead Ħamrun Spartans into the group stages of a UEFA club competition after the Gozitan business mogul saw his team secure their ninth Premier League title last weekend following a 1-0 win over Gżira United on Saturday.

Luke Montebello was the Spartans’ match-winner as his late goal earned the team their 19th win of the season to open an unassailable 17-point lead over nearest rivals Gżira United with only four matches to go.

For Portelli this was the second Premier League title he won with the Spartans since taking over the club three years ago but he told Times of Malta that this success has only increased his motivation to realise his dream of seeing Ħamrun Spartans reaching the group stages of a UEFA club competition.

Video: Matthew Mirabelli

“It was very important that we won the league championship with a win,” Portelli told the Times of Malta.

“Gżira are a strong team but today we have shown that we are also a very good side and the fact that we have a 17-point lead at the top shows that we deserve to be crowned champions.

“I hope that we don’t stop here. I promise that I will not stop working until I fulfil the dream of seeing Ħamrun Spartans reaching the group stages of a UEFA club competition.

“At the moment, I don’t feel that we are ready to reach this objective. I believe until we have a team that can remain unbeaten and be competitive against everyone in the league we won’t be ready. So now we focus on trying to make the necessary changes to turn the team into a much stronger outfit.”

Asked whether his focus was on preparing the team for European football, Portelli said: “We have already started working on that, we have been looking at it since Christmas, and in the coming weeks we will continue to work hard.”

Last summer Ħamrun Spartans came agonisingly close to attaining this goal when they managed to reach the Play-Off Round of the UEFA Conference League. They knocked out Alashkert, of Azerbaijan, FK Velez Mostar, of Bosnia Herzegovina, and Bulgarian giants Levski Sofia before falling down on the last hurdle against Serbian powerhouse Partizan Belgrade.

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