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Mizzi vows to preserve Melita’s philosophy on top-flight return

Melita’s Andre Carlos Penha Da Costa looks to find a way through against Senglea. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

Melita, Zabbar St Patrick promoted to BOV Premier League

Clive Mizzi said Melita will preserve their club’s philosophy of banking on youth talent after the Amateurs booked their place in next season’s Premier League last weekend.

Last weekend Melita and Żabbar St Patrick took the two spots available in next season’s Premier League when they managed to win their respective matches.

Melita needed a goal from Matthew Portelli to overcome the challenge of Senglea Athletic 1-0 while Żabbar St Patrick beat Marsa 2-0, courtesy of goals from Ezequir Ruiz from the penalty spot and Leo Agius.

These wins lifted Melita and Żabbar St Patrick on the 47-point mark at the top of the standings, and with an unassailable 13-point lead over Marsa with just four matches left.

Mizzi said that Melita have been investing in their young talent for several years and the fact that the club had succeeded in securing a return to the Premier League with a crop of players that came through the club’s youth system is of great satisfaction.

“Before the season started, we knew that the Challenge League campaign was going to be very tough as there were many other teams who had invested a lot of money to strengthen their squads,” Mizzi said.

“You see teams like Tarxien Rainbows and Żebbuġ Rangers, just to name two, that could bank on bigger budgets than us so we knew that it was always not going to be easy.

“But our biggest strength was without a doubt the great sense of belonging that our players have towards our club. The majority of the players in our squad have started playing at our club at the age of five or six and have remained at our club for many years. This is something that you cannot find just anywhere.

“It has been a long process and although I have only been at the club this season, I feel that I have done my part to help the team reach its objective. For us at Melita to have won promotion with a team made up of the club’s talent is of great satisfaction.”

Although the league standings give the impression that Melita and Żabbar SP has strolled to promotion, Mizzi said that the club had a lot of challenges to face throughout the season but said that the positive mentality of the players was crucial to achieve that result.

“I can only praise the level of consistency shown by my team throughout the season,” Mizzi said.

“It has been a very long season and what stood out for us is the fact that when we suffered a defeat the team didn’t crumble but there was a positive mentality among the players and that made it easier to get back on our stride.

“I am blessed to have a group of players that are very united and more importantly they are very good players who in my opinion are a bit under-rated outside our club as they are really very talented.

“Added to that, we had three very good overseas players who made the difference on the pitch and who helped us to reach the result we wanted.”

Melita and Żabbar SP will have their eyes set on securing the league title when the two teams go head to head in a direct clash on April 13.

“Żabbar remain the favourites to win the title as they are the team to beat,” Mizzi said.

“But I can guarantee you that we will do all we can to offer them the best possible challenge. Our main goal was winning promotion and we achieved that and now we will try and reach another step by being crowned champions.”

Next season the Premier League will be played on a new format and will be formed by only 12 teams, inevitably increasing the level of competition.

Asked whether Melita will change their stance in the top-flight, Mizzi was quite clear.

“Going against our philosophy of banking on our youth talent is something that we will surely not do,” Mizzi said.

“We will continue to maintain our club philosophy but that does not mean that we will not strengthen the team. Our plan is to bring in a few players in that can make a difference on the pitch and see how it goes.

“Retaining our place in the Premier League is not going to be easy. However, our youngsters and the talent that boasts our club will remain at the centre of our project as we want to continue to build for the future.”

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