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Portelli ready to lead Spartans into Euro group stages after title success

Vows to bring quality players to further bolster squad

The National Stadium will be a sea of red and black colours on Saturday afternoon as Ħamrun Spartans’ title celebrations will reach their climax when they will be crowned as the new Malta champions at the end of their clash against Gudja United (kick-off: 2pm).

There is no hiding that the Spartans have been the dominant force in Maltese football this season as Branko Nisevic’s men secured mathematical certainty of their title last March and president Joseph Portelli told the Times of Malta that he had never any doubt on his team’s convincing championship success.

“I always had great faith in the team’s potential,” Portelli said.

“There was great unity among the players and the technical staff and that was crucial. But behind them there was unity in the committee and the club set-up that is formed by 400 volunteers and that made our work easier to reach our targets.

“I always believed that we would win the championships in such a convincing matter and in fact we were the first team in Europe to have won their domestic championship.

“Naturally, I was disappointed to have lost the match against Żebbuġ, which was held in unique circumstances given that the two halves were played in different days due to the stormy weather, and our defeat to Birkirkara in the FA Trophy.

“My goal was to win the championship unbeaten as that would have proved that we are ready to qualify for the group stages of a UEFA club competition. But now we are looking forward and we have already started our preparation for our participation in the UEFA Champions League qualifiers.”

Portelli reserved special praise for the work carried out by coach Branko Nisevic who guided the team to such an outstanding success.

“Branko Nisevic deserves all the plaudits because he has done an excellent job,” Portelli said.

“He managed to lead our club where no other Maltese team has managed to arrive when he guided us to the Play Off round of the Conference League. Added to that he was named three times as the Coach of the Month.

“Branko is a person I have great respect for as he has always listened to our ideas and discussed with us the way forward of the team. For me he is one of the best coaches on the island and I would only end my working relationship with him if we bring in someone of a higher level.”

Portelli said that after this year’s title success his sights are already set to go one better than last season and help the team reach the group stages of a UEFA club competition.

“I have no doubt that I will lead Ħamrun Spartans into the group stages of a UEFA club competition,” Portelli said.

“As I said the work has already started to ensure that we revamp our squad at the end of the season and bring in more quality players that can help us to reach this objective.

“I have already invested a lot of money in the team and I am fully motivated to continue to invest and the money the club will earn from his participation from UEFA competitions each year will serve as a welcome addition to our budget.

“Since the first day that I came to Ħamrun Spartans I said already that my primary goal was to lead the club into the group stages. People may be thought that I was crazy but last summer we came very close to achieving that.

“In my life I have always set high objectives and I will always continue to dream big for this club and for our fans who deserve the best. And in the next weeks I will be doing all that is necessary to ensure the club can take the next step in the UEFA club competitions.”



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