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Birkirkara through to next round of FA Trophy after extra-time Sirens victory

Birkirkara's Paul Mbong moves the ball ahead ahead against Sirens. Photo: Dominic Borg


Elouni 111


A day after Birkirkara announced a shift in coaching staff with women’s team coach Jose Borg set to take over the men’s side as well, coach Brian Chetcuti was back on the sidelines to lead the team for a final match before taking a step back into the role of assistant coach to Borg.

And it was a long evening for him and the team as it took 111 minutes for the winning goal against a resistant Sirens side at the Hibernians Stadium.

The FA Trophy holders were the first to put an opposing goalkeeper into action within the first five minutes as an Alex Satariano shot from the right was parried away by Andrea Cassar. 

Seconds later, Sirens could have had the chance of a lifetime from a counter-attack but Emny Pena Beltre pulled back Gilberto Carrara for a technical foul and the game’s first yellow card.

Both sides began to get comfortable but half an hour in, Paul Mbong woke the game from its lull with a cannon of a shot from outside of the area. However, it was way too strong to stay on target, going over the bar for a goalkick.

Sirens responded two minutes later when a Neil Micallef mistake in defence led the ball to Siren’s Daniel Agius who for all the time he had inside the box, shot well over Marcel Zapytowski’s goal.

42 minutes in, Birkirkara had their best chance yet with a cross-shot from Andrei Ciolacu but with Cassar beaten, centre-back Konstantinos Ntampizas cleared away off the line. 

Then a minute into injury time the Stripes were handed an even better opportunity when Ciolacu was dropped in the Sirens box. Despite this, the Romanian kept his side empty-handed at the halftime break with a scuffed shot from the spot.

Birkirkara’s Satariano threatened two minutes in as play restarted for the second half but just like his previous efforts, he could not hit the target.

Nevertheless, the Stripes looked the more dominant side of the encounter. They went close on 54 minutes when Andrea Zammit put the ball through to substitute Maxuell Maia whose shot went wide and on the hour mark, Maia was whiskers away from getting his goal from another Zammit delivery.

Chances kept coming Birkirkara’s way but they could not find the net as the 90 got closer. To their benefit, Sirens’ Hasan Gomda received his marching orders after a second yellow card on a rough tackle on Zammit with a minute to go. 

A man down, Sirens were susceptible to more damage but made it to the 90 without conceding as referee Malcolm Spiteri whistled for extra time. 

Two minutes into the extra set of minutes, Adailton nearly made the effort count when the Birkirkara substitute sped forward to meet a long pass but once again, his angled shot went wide. Alessandro Coppola tried his luck twice after that but still, there was nothing dividing the two teams. 

Chetcuti brought on Omar Elouni for Neil Farrugia 108 minutes into the game and this became Birkirkara’s ace as they finally broke the deadlock three minutes later when Maia fired at goal from outside. With Cassar unable to hold onto the ball, Elouni was ready to pounce on the rebound and send the ball home. 

BIRKIRKARA M. Zapytowski, E. Pepe, P. Mbong, A. Zammit (120 K. Fenech), K. Zammit, A. Satariano (53 M. Maia), E. Pena Beltre (53 E. Sarpong), N. Micallef (108 O. Elouni), A. Coppola, S. Zibo, A. Ciolacu (61 Adailton).

SIRENS A. Cassar, D. Borrero, P. Owusu, H. Gomda, N. Pulis, A. Panayiotou (95 S. Borg), G. Carrara, K. Ntampizas, B. Asare (72 D. Jackson), L. Donsu, D. Agius (112 M. Hafiz).

Referee Malcolm Spiteri.

Yellow cards Pena Beltre, Owusu, Gomda, Ciolacu, Elouni, Jackson

Red card Gomda (S) 89.

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