Nadur Youngsters are the winners of the 2023 GFA Knock Out after they beat Qala Saints 2-1 in the final.
For the Youngsters this will be their first of two honours this season as on Sunday, they will be crowned as Gozitan champions after playing their final match.
Nadur were favourites to retain the trophy but the win over Qala was hard-earned particularly as they played for more than an hour with a player less.
The Youngsters had a better start and had an early attempt by Predrag Djordevic from a corner action that was stopped by the post.
The Youngsters, however, opened the score on 11 minutes through a direct free-kick by Marcelo Barbosa that flew past the Qala goalkeeper.
Nadur failed to capitalise from their superiority and suffered a setback on the half hour mark as striker Igor Nedeljkovic was sent off for a second bookable offence.
Qala took advantage of the extra player and levelled the score two minutes later when the Nadur goalkeeper partially saved consecutive attempts by Joshua Buttigieg and Jordi Parnis but from the second rebound, Rafael Prudente headed into the net.
Nadur, however, managed to regain the lead on 42 minutes with a free-kick from a long distance by Gennaro Hili that surprised Qala’s rearguard and the goalkeeper.
Qala, as expected, put pressure on Nadur’s defence during the second half but found it difficult to create scoring opportunities.
The Maroons had their best opportunity to score the equaliser on 62 minutes but a close-range header by Prudente was saved with difficulty by goalkeeper Steve Sultana.
At the end of the match, GFA president Dr Samuel Azzopardi presented the medals and the trophy to the Nadur players and officials.
Division Two final
Holders Żebbuġ Rovers and Division Two runners-up Xagħra United will be contesting the Division Two KO final today as they earned qualification to the final of the competition with semi-final victories over Munxar Falcons and SK Victoria Wanderers respectively.
Żebbuġ obtained a 5-1 win over Munxar Falcons. The Rovers were surprised during the opening minutes as Munxar took the lead through Henry Fabian Solis after 15 minutes.
The Rovers hit back strongly and dominated the rest of the match by scoring five goals through Gabriel Debrincat (35), a brace by Peter Muscat (38, 62), Lorenzo Atzori (65) and Daniel Mesa Pineros (86).
In the second semi-final, Xagħra United registered a 2-1 win over Division Two champions SK Victoria Wanderers.
With this result, Xagħra avenged the defeat conceded against the same Citizens a few days before in the final of the Division Two Challenge Cup.
Xagħra opened the score from a free kick by Matthias Cordina (18) but the Wanderers had a strong reaction after the break and levelled the score through a free kick from Owen Fenech (58).
As the match seemed heading for extra time, Xagħra scored the winner in the first minute of stoppage time when Victoria’s defence failed to clear the ball and substitute Luke Sultana deposited the ball into the net.
PLAYING ON FRIDAY
GFA Division Two KO final
Żebbuġ R. vs Xaghra Utd 18.30
PLAYING ON SATURDAY
GFA Division One Play-Out
Victoria H. vs Sannat L. 14.00
Oratory Y. vs Għajnsielem 16.00
PLAYING ON SUNDAY
GFA Division One Top 4
Qala Saints vs Nadur Y. 15.00
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