Preview - BOV Super Cup Valletta vs Sliema Published on: 21-12-2016

The Super Cup usually heralds the start of a new season but, with the National Stadium unavailable for
much of last summer due to the installation of the new hybrid pitch, this annual one-off clash between
the Premier League champions and the winners of the FA Trophy is being played during the festive
season this year, thus handing Valletta and Sliema Wanderers the chance to wrap up their year on a
top note.
Paul Zammit, the Valletta coach, is relishing the prospect of leading his team to another honour to go with their title triumph at the end of last season.
“There are three main honours in Maltese football and this is one of them,” Zammit told a news
conference organised by the Malta FA yesterday.
“We’re looking forward to this game knowing that there is an honour at stake. “This season we’ve had our ups and downs but I want to express my appreciation for the players’ efforts which helped to keep our
team in the top positions in the

“Sliema Wanderers, who appointed a new coach in the summer, made a slow start to the season but they have settled to become one of the most compact sides in the championship.
“They possess Maltese players who can make a difference and we know that our two league games against Sliema could have gone either way.
“We managed to emerge victorious from those two meetings but this is a different game.
“I’m sure that both teams will show plenty of commitment and I hope that the Super Cup final will be an entertaining game.”
John Buttigieg is eager to win his first honour as Sliema Wanderers coach. “This is the final of the Super
Cup, the third biggest honour in Maltese football,” Buttigieg, who succeeded Alfonso Greco in the
close season, said.

“We will be doing our best to win this cup. We’re fortunate to be involved in such a game as it is
a clash between the team that won the championship and the FA Trophy holders.

“Our commitment to this game is absolute. I hope that it will be an enjoyable encounter.” Valletta and Sliema Wanderers drew their last league matches with the champions figuring in a goalless stalemate against derby rivals Floriana while the Blues’ clash with St Andrews ended one-all.
More significantly perhaps, the two Super Cup contestants are on a positive streak with the Citizens
unbeaten in their last 11 matches in league and cup while Sliema have not lost in their last four outings
in all competitions.
Buttigieg declared himself pleased with his team’s form going into the Super Cup final but criticised the fixture schedule as Sliema had only two days to prepare for today’s showdown after playing on Sunday.
“I’m satisfied with the performances of my team but, of course, you always want to do better,”
Buttigieg said.
“This being a final, anything can happen and my team is well prepared. The only thing I’m not
happy with is the organisational aspect surrounding this final as we only played two days ago.”
For his part, Zammit again elected to pay tribute to his players for showing character and resilience
during difficult situations.
“Although, since the start of the season we’ve experienced highs and lows, I’m very proud of my
players,” Zammit said.
“We’ve been through some difficult situations but even in moments that were not positive for us, they continued to move forward, especially when our squad was ravaged by injuries and suspensions.
“I also hope that, through our collective work, the general level of Maltese football will get better
but I’m not really satisfied with what we’ve seen so far.
“Let’s be frank, I don’t think the standard has improved, what has happened is that with seven foreigners,
the so-called small teams have bridged the gap.”
Federico Falcone is out for Valletta as the Argentine striker has a bruised ankle.
Quizzed about growing reports linking Falcone with a move to a foreign club during the January transfer window, Zammit confirmed that a host of overseas clubs have shown an interest in the prolific forward and the indications are that the 26-year-old will leave Valletta next month.
Apart from Falcone, who is reportedly in talks to join a club in Malaysia, Zammit said a few
other players have fatigue injuries but he expects them to recover.
Sliema’s injury situation has not changed from last weekend as Serbian midfielder Marko Potezica is still struggling with injury while striker Jean Paul Farrugia, who came on for the last 10 minutes of the 1-1 draw
against St Andrews, remains doubtful.
Despite giving a good account of themselves in their two league meetings with Valletta this season,
Sliema have lost both matches with an identical 2-1 scoreline.
In Buttigieg’s eyes, Sliema just need to rediscover their winning mentality to start beating the big guns.
“It’s a question of confidence,” Buttigieg said. “Valletta have been winning a lot in the last few years and that gives you confidence.
“On the other hand, Sliema have struggled against Valletta in recent seasons. We need to change that mentality. It’s probably the toughest hurdle we’re facing but we’re working on it. “Our players are aware of their capabilities but it’s not easy to get back that confidence.
“Even big clubs abroad find it difficult to recapture their aura after a barren period.” If the Super Cup final today ends in a draw, extra-time will be played followed by penalties.

Source - Times of Malta