Roko Prsa said that Ħamrun Spartans’ title hopes depend on how the team performs in the next few months as Malta champions boosted their aspirations with a dramatic 1-0 win over title rivals Floriana on Saturday.
Croatian midfielder Prsa grabbed the all-important goal with virtually the last kick of the match to hand the Spartans three vital points that lifted them to the top of the standings, level with the same Greens on 29 points.
However, it was far from a straightforward victory for the Spartans who for much of the match looked second best against the Greens who dominated long spells of the match, with the stormy conditions making life difficult for both sets of players.
Prsa said that he was delighted to have been at ‘the right place and the right time’ to score the winner but said his team-mate, goalkeeper Henry Bonello, played a big part in the team’s victory.
“It was a very tough match to play,” the Croatian midfielder said.
“We suffered a lot in the first half as the strong winds and the hail storm that fell on the pitch made it tough for us to see the ball well. But despite the adverse conditions we kept fighting till the end.
“No doubt, Henry Bonello’s penalty save was a key moment for us as it has given us more energy and courage to stay in the match. And in the end, our efforts were rewarded with that late winner, I just felt blessed to be at the right place and the right time to push into the net Luke Montebello’s excellent pass.”
Prsa said that he was not surprised by the character shown by the Spartans’ players and said that the team always steps up a gear when the going gets tough.
“I think that in the past 18 months, this team has always shown what they are made of,” Prsa said.
“Last season, not many people believed in us and we went on to win the championship by a record 19-point margin. This year, after we suffered a 3-0 defeat to Birkirkara in the league there was a lot of talk that Ħamrun Spartans were finished.
“But the players gave the right response the following week when we beat Birkirkara 4-0 in the Super Cup final. When the going gets tough all the players and the technical staff come together and we always find a way to show our real strength.
“Last Saturday, we always believed that we could win the match and when the coach changed our formation to 4-3-3 we looked much stronger and our efforts were rewarded with the winner.”
Prsa related a nice anecdote behind his match-winning performance.
“This week our Strength and Conditioning coach told me that the match against Floriana was going to be played exactly one year after we had beaten Hibernians 1-0 last year,” he said.
“On that day, I also scored the winner and I messaged him back that I would score the winner again against Floriana and so it happened,” he added with a smile.
“The emotions I felt when I saw the ball finishing in the net are difficult to describe. It was crazy, but I was really happy for us as a team but also for our fans who are always behind us and I know how much that win meant to them.”
Prsa said that while the win against Floriana was crucial for their hopes of defending the league title, he believes that if Ħamrun Spartans approach the remaining matches of the season with the right approach no team can stop them from winning the remaining honours.
“As a team we always love challenges,” he said.
“I think for us that the title race is not about Floriana’s strength but it all comes down to us. If we show the right mentality and work for each other it will not be a problem to finish at the top.
“We are hungry to win every title that there is. This year we won the Super Cup which has been missing from the club’s cabinet for 30 years and our eyes are also set on winning the FA Trophy.
“The target is to win them all and if we play up to our strength and believe in ourselves we can achieve everything.”
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