Sciriha backs much-changed Valletta to cause a surprise Published on: 19-08-2015

Valletta are approaching the new season with a sense of cautious optimism after a summer of change but president Victor Sciriha is confident that his club can cause a surprise in the BOV Premier League.

“After the huge disappointment of our Europa League elimination, we have done a lot of work,” Sciriha said at the presentation of Valletta’s new signings for season 2015/16, held at the Vivaldi Hotel.

“For this, I want to thank the coach, vice-presidents Paul Spiteri and Alex Fenech and Jerry Ellul, our team manager.

“This year, we didn’t rush into picking our new foreign players. I believe that those who have joined us have brought a lot of quality to the squad.

“I’m convinced that Valletta will finish higher than fifth in the league as someone has suggested.

“We are the underdogs but we can surprise a few people.”

Coach Paul Zammit, with the support of the club’s committee, has signed a host of new foreigners, namely Cameroonian winger Njongo Priso, who played for Valletta in the past, Brazilian striker Jhonnattann, Italian midfielder Claudio Pani, Argentine defender Juan Cruz Gill, Brazilian wing-back Romeo Romau, strikers Calictus Umeh, from Nigeria, and Argentine Federico Falcone, and Maltese goalkeeper Henry Bonello.

“What happened in previous years can’t repeat itself,” Sciriha added.

“We were facing a recurring problem as, after every season, we had to change our foreigners.

“From this year, the foreign players’ contracts are for a minimum of two years.”

The Valletta president said the club intend to make Bonello’s loan move from Sliema a permanent one next summer.

On Zammit’s return, Sciriha said Valletta grabbed the chance to bring him back after the Maltese tactician parted ways with Birkirkara whom he led to success in the FA Trophy last season.

“We can cause a big surprise this season as I believe a lot in this squad,” Sciriha said.

Zammit spoke about on Valletta’s preparations for the new season which starts tomorrow with a game against newly-promoted St Andrews.

In praising his technical staff, most of whom were confirmed from last season, Zammit said that the Valletta players are also training in the morning.

“Just because we’ve introduced morning training sessions doesn’t mean that wer can call ourselves professionals,” Zammit said.

“The attitude and approach are very important. The demands of the game have increased and we have to be well-prepared.

“Maltese football is growing and we’re trying to raise the level of our team.”

Zammit insisted that he is not setting his team a specific target for this season but said: “I believe in what we’re doing. Now we will start gauging ourselves in the championship.

“We have seen a lot of positive things in pre-season games. Valletta need to have an identity, one that the fans and media can relate with.

“Everyone has an opinion on who will challenge but we have to give our response on the field of play.

“This year, I also wish to bring the team closer to the supporters.

“When I was with Valletta six years ago, the support for the team was fervent.

“I know that there are many people who love Valletta FC and I want them to feel close to the team.”

Valletta face newly-promoted side St Andrews in their first Premier League match on Friday

Source - Times of Malta