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‘Ħamrun Spartans players are obliged to deliver in Super Cup final’, says Spartans CEO

Ħamrun midfielder Roko Prsa (left) races past Paul Mbong. Photo: Domenic Borg

Club CEO criticises team’s approach against Birkirkara

Ħamrun Spartans CEO Marcel Bonnici has criticised the performance of the Ħamrun Spartans players during Saturday’s 3-0 debacle to Birkirkara in the BOV Premier League and accused them of lacking the necessary hunger and ambition to take home the three points.

On Saturday, the Malta champions were completely outplayed by a revitalised Birkirkara side, now under the charge of interim coach Brian Chetcuti.

The Birkirkara players looked a pale shadow of the team that suffered back-to-back defeats to Marsaxlokk and Naxxar Lions in previous weeks as the Stripes worked their socks off throughout the 90 minutes, outworking their opponents by adopting a high-pressing game full pitch, giving the Spartans little time to manoeuvre.

That game ploy put the Spartans under a lot of pressure and the Stripes took full advantage by taking a deserved lead through a fine strike by Adailton.

The Spartans’ woes were further compounded when Ognjen Bjelicic picked up two quick yellow cards to leave his team with ten men.

After the break, Ħamrun’s defensive game floundered as the Stripes doubled their lead through an Emerson Marcelina own goal before a poor pass from substitute Juan Corbalan set up substitute Maxuell Maia to make it 3-0, just a few minutes after Elionay was sent off for a second bookable offence.

For the Spartans this was their first defeat of the season but of more concern for Bonnici was the lack of fight and hunger displayed by the Reds on Saturday.

“You win a football match with the contribution of all your players and you lose a match when many players of the team fail to perform,” Bonnici said.

“On Saturday, the players that took the field gave far less than one expects from them. It was not just one player who failed to perform but there were several whose performance left much to be desired and that is not acceptable.

“In life, you learn from such defeats if you understand what you did wrong and that is what all the players need to do now.

“They need to take a good look at themselves and analyse their performance and admit that it was not good enough.”

Bonnici said that one of the reasons behind Ħamrun’s poor performance on Saturday could be a sense of superiority over their opponents.

“The moment you think that you are the best team is likely to be your downfall,” Bonnici said.

“If you don’t produce a performance of a certain level you cannot aspire to win football matches. You can only win football matches if you earn it on the pitch. You need to prove on the pitch that you are better than your opponent, if not you will be in for a nasty surprise.

“We have seen it even in foreign leagues this season, top teams like Bayern Munich who were knocked out by a third-division side in the German Cup. They were on paper superior technically but on the day their performance was not good enough and got knocked out.

“Last Saturday, Birkirkara’s performance throughout the 90 minutes was superior to ours. They were more aggressive and showed far more hunger and will to succeed than we did.

“That is why it’s important that our players now sit down and admit that they didn’t approach the match the right way and look to make amends in the next match.”

The defeat to Birkirkara came just less than a week before the two teams meet again in the Super Cup final on Friday, and Bonnici was quite clear in what he expects his players to deliver at the National Stadium this week.

“They need to perform to their highest level,” Bonnici said.

Will to succeed

“In Europe this summer, we beat Dinamo Tbilisi in Georgia with ten men. That win was achieved as all the players showed great hunger to succeed. They were highly committed to the cause and fought together towards the same goal.

“It’s crucial that the players admit they were not good enough last weekend and make sure that they rise to the occasion on Friday. What happened last Saturday is in the past now and we need to just focus on what lies ahead, which is the Super Cup final.

“It’s important that we adopt the right approach and take nothing for granted. It’s our performance on the day that will decide if we win the Super Cup final or not. We need to tick all the right boxes and show the personality and character to secure victory.”

Bonnici said that the club had done everything needed to put the players in a position to perform at their best and it is now up to the players to show that they are a far better team than the one that turned up on Saturday.

“As a club, we have done everything in our power to put the players in an ideal position to perform at their best,” Bonnici said.

“Now it’s up to the players to do their job and they are obliged to turn up and produce their best possible performance. They need to prove to everyone that what happened last Saturday was a rare slip-up.

“Our president Joseph Portelli has worked very hard to build a strong team now it’s the players’ turn to repay his trust with victory on Friday.”

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