Six-star striker Mifsud enjoying life in the city Published on: 26-09-2012

The first went in after four minutes, the second after 13. By the 16th minute, Michael Mifsud had struck two more goals to take his tally to four as Valletta raced into a 5-0 lead in Monday night’s BOV Premier League game against Ħamrun Spartans.

No wonder that the now familiar chant ‘Ole, Ole... Ole, Ole Michael Mifsud’ reverberated several times across the National Stadium as the City stalwart, not for the first time in his career, took centre-stage after scoring six goals.

You’d expect Mifsud to be basking in glory after his outstanding performance but, although pleased with his performance, the Malta captain rued missing two glorious chances to add to his haul as he was looking to break his personal six-goal feat in the early years of his career when Sliema Wanderers, Mifsud’s first club, had hammered Xgħajra Tornadoes 11-1.

“It (scoring six goals) is a nice thing,” Mifsud told The Times.

“As a striker, my job is to put the ball into the net but I have to thank my team-mates because without their help, this wouldn’t have happened.

“We are a team and this was a collective effort. We play for each other.

“Perhaps, the only regret I have is that I failed to better my personal record for number of goals scored in one match.”

Monday’s was a non-contest as Valletta ripped their old rivals apart from the outset to wrap up their win inside the opening 16 minutes.

“We went into the game with the utmost respect for our opponents but we always go out to win,” Mifsud said.

“We’ve done our job. We all know that when the goals come early, things become easier.

“I believe in my team. We have a very strong squad and everyone, including those on the bench, are doing their part. We’ve won five out of five but the road is long and we have to take it one game a time.

“We need to treat every match like a final because football can be unpredictable. We can’t afford to become over-confident.”

Long acclaimed as one of the best players this country has ever produced, Mifsud’s exploits for the national team and foreign clubs like Kaiserslautern, Lillestrom and Coventry City, made him the darling of Maltese football fans.

There were growing fears about his future when, after his spell with Coventry, he surprised many by taking a long sabbatical despite attracting interest from several overseas clubs.

After two short spells with Valletta and Qormi in 2010 and 2011, Mifsud rejoined the Citizens on a long-term contract.

His decision to return to the ‘comforts’ of Maltese football was not met with universal approval but the move looks to have revitalised Mifsud.

His scoring form aside – nine goals in five matches – Mifsud, 31, is clearly enjoying his football with the capital team.

“I’m settled at Valletta,” Mifsud said.

“The atmosphere is great... we get on really well. We joke around during breaks but when it’s time to get serious, we are 100 per cent committed.

“It makes a big difference when a team go about their business in harmony. This is also down to the approach of coach Mark Miller and the technical staff. In my opinion, harmony is a key aspect in football and this is one of the reasons why we’re performing to the best of our abilities.”

“I’m happy about my decision to join Valletta,” Mifsud added.

“The supporters are behind me and the team. Victor Sciriha, the club president, is a respectful person. He looks after the players and sees that the team’s needs are attended to.”

Transfer target

In the aftermath of Mifsud’s decision to sign for Valletta last year, cynics suggested that he had blown his chances of continuing his career overseas but in the close season, rumours were rife that the Malta striker was a target of several clubs, including newly-crowned Bulgarian champions Ludogorets.

Mifsud confirmed.

“I had offers from many clubs in the summer,” he said.

“Ludogorets were interested and I also had an approach from a top club in Scotland (Aberdeen).”

Asked to explain why he turned down these proposals, Mifsud replied: “We all have our private lives.

“Some may not understand this but I take many factors into account before making an important decision. You have to think about everything.”

At international level, Mifsud is by far Malta’s best-known player, the dangerous forward all opposing coaches, including Italy’s Cesare Prandelli, speak about in their pre-match comments.

This is hardly surprising when you remember that Mifsud is the national team’s all-time leading scorer with 36 goals in 91 appearances.

With Mifsud closely guarded by opposing defenders, Malta struggled to create scoring chances in their 2014 World Cup qualifying upsets to Armenia (1-0) and Italy (2-0).

“In the first game against Armenia, we could have gained something but we didn’t get going,” Mifsud opined.

“That was probably due to the fact that it was our first game of the qualifying campaign.

“Against Italy, we turned in a good performance and were unlucky with the goals we conceded. We are in a very tough group and our next match is away to the Czech Republic. The chances of getting some points look slim but we’ll continue to work hard and hope to gain something in return... miracles do happen in football.”

On the domestic front, Valletta are now gearing up for arguably their sternest test of the season so far as they face rivals Hibs on Sunday.

“Hibs are strong contenders with many good players in the team,” Mifsud said.

“From our side, we will go into the match with a positive attitude and determined to get a good result.”

After winning the league in his first full season with Valletta, Mifsud is gunning for more success.

“My target is to win the league again and other trophies with Valletta,” Mifsud said.

“Every game has its own story. I will continue to do my best to help my team win all the challenges but in saying this, I mean no disrespect to the other teams.”

As our interview drew to a close, Mifsud expressed his gratitude to his team-mates, coaching staff, committee and TeamSport, his personal sponsor.

“I want to thank TeamSport for their unwavering support,” Mifsud said.

“They deserve a special mention be-cause they’ve been right behind me for many years.”

Source - Times of Malta