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Santa Lucia, Żejtun Corinthians battle for Premier League spot

Santa Lucia's Nicholas Pulis (left) tries to move past Rodrigo Callegari, of Ħamrun Spartans. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

Santa Lucia and Żejtun Corinthians will face off in a decisive play-off that will see the winner earn a place in next season’s BOV Premier League at the Centenary Stadium (kick-off: 7pm).

Santa Lucia have been battling against relegation for the whole season after a poor start to the campaign, but the arrival of Enzo Potenza in late October has gradually steadied the ship.

A good run of form towards the end of the campaign have seen them leapfrog rivals Żebbuġ Rangers to 12th-place and book their berth in the play-out against Żejtun Corinthians.

Coach Potenza has described this match as ‘fundamental for the future of our club’.

“This match is fundamental for the future of our club in the Premier League,” he said.

“We have come a long way in the last few weeks as we had to recover significant ground on our rivals to put ourselves in this position and now it’s time that we complete the job.

“I have been pleased with the football played by my team, as bar for our performances against Floriana and Gudja United, the players have done very well. But now we need to maintain our strong performances as we have a very tough match ahead of us.

“Żejtun Corinthians are a very difficult team to play against. They are coming from the Challenge League and it will be important to adapt ourselves to the rhythm of that championship. We cannot think that since we play in the Premier League we are a superior team, we need to earn it on the pitch.

“Added to that, we will have just five overseas players in our squad, as per MFA regulations for this match, so that makes it an even bigger challenge for us. But I have faith in my boys and we will be ready for it.”

For Żejtun Corinthians being in contention for Premier League promotion is surely a huge achievement, particularly after what the club has gone through in the past few months.

In fact, in January, due to financial problems, the Corinthians saw the departure of 11 players, together with some key members of the technical staff.

But still, coach Orosco Anonam and his players kept fighting and managed to step up their challenge for promotion and succeeded in placing third in the Challenge League, only behind to champions Sliema Wanderers and Naxxar Lions.

“To be in this position is a great achievement for our club, given the huge difficulties we faced throughout this season,” Anonam told the Times of Malta.

“I can only give credit to my players who have worked really hard to pull off this result. We know that it is not going to be easy as Santa Lucia will be very difficult opponents but in football, you never know. I have faith in my players who have shown great character this season despite all the challenges we faced.”

For Żejtun, today’s match is an opportunity for redemption after last season they missed out on a place in the Premier League by just one point.

Anonam said that he is determined to make up for last season’s disappointment and said that the only thing he expects from his players is to play with freedom and express themselves.

“I want my players to keep it simple and play with freedom,” Anonam said.

“It’s important that they express themselves and play freely and the outcome of the match will materialise automatically. I don’t demand from them to show things they don’t know. Just keep it simple.

“Winning this match would be a massive achievement for us, particularly given what we came through in the last months.

“But we kept fighting and the players continued to work hard and continued to believe. No doubt, should we win promotion it would be one of my biggest achievements in my career.”

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