Marsa top scorers in Challenge League so far
Seven games into the new BOV Challenge League season, the fight for the top six spots which guarantee a chance for promotion is heating up and while Zabbar St Patrick remain leaders on 16 points, challengers Marsa are right behind them on 15.
On Saturday, Marsa thrashed 15th-place Attard 6-0 at the Victor Tedesco Stadium. Coach Orosco Anonam lauded his players’ efforts, saying they kept pushing to make sure of the result.
“Last game, our performance was very good,” Anonam told the Times of Malta.
“The players took the first chance they had and went immediately on the attack. Our plan was to try to score very early. The players did their jobs and we managed to get the early goal.
“When you get the second, usually that time is all about controlling the game because, for your opponent, it becomes all about not conceding more so they tried to go more on the counterattack. But our players still continued pushing to make sure of the result and we scored more.
Marsa are currently the only unbeaten side left in the division with four wins and three draws and one factor that helps this statistic is the fact that they are also the team that has scored the most goals so far with 16 to five conceded.
Asked about the importance of this, Anonam said this was not always the case as his side missed a lot of chances at the beginning of the season but he believes they are finally settled in.
“We had the first two games where we missed a lot of chance and the players know about the pressure on them to score goals,” he admitted.
“Then from the third or fourth games one could see the real potential of the team and our lateral players especially James (Brincat) and Rodrigo who play on the wing ‑ they began to show us more.
“We created a lot of chances but now we began to take them. The players were settling down which means they started to do a better job. At Marsa, players are pressured by each other – if you don’t perform, someone else plays. So, because of the healthy competition between top players, they have to always fight for their place.”
Change of scenery
Marsa roped in no less than 17 new players this summer to strengthen this season’s squad. They also went for a change of coaching staff as they brought on Anonam who had been at challenge League rivals Zejtun Corinthians for the past five seasons.
Anonam was not the only Corinthian to join Marsa, persuading four players to join him and he believes they have helped him pass on his message to the rest of the squad.
“Most of the time when a coach changes team, he struggles to get his message across and for players to understand his ideas. Players are used to one way and the new coach wants something else. But that’s why at the end of the season, I spoke to some of my old players and they accepted to come with me,” Anonam explained.
“For me, it was very good as it was much easier for them to understand what I want, and to be honest they helped a lot. I cannot deny the fact that they help me to focus on being one step ahead.
“The players that needed most time to gel together were the foreigners but even though they struggled in the beginning, they are now coming to terms with Maltese football and what is expected of them.”
Last weekend’s matchups were the last round of games before another international break and Anonam believes it is of no benefit to his side’s momentum, particularly with teams having to make up for the three weeks of ‘break’, one which involves only a few players, most of whom do not play in the second tier.
“For me, no,” he said when asked if he agrees with such a long break.
“Three weeks are very long and on the other hand, after the break, we end up with a lot of games in a row which for our level is not good.
“Players in this division are not professional – they have to go to work before training. At this stage of the season, you end up with a lot of injuries and it’s because the players are not built to play so many games. You can’t expect a player to go to work and then come and give the maximum like that.
“As coaches, whatever the players give us, we have to take it but even though we push them, these players need rest. You have to find a way to manage them and stop them from getting injured.”
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Attard vs Marsa 0-6
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Senglea A. vs Tarxien R. 0-0
Zejtun C. vs Pieta H. 2-2
Zebbug R. vs Msida SJ 3-0
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