Zammit calls for right approach Published on: 02-07-2015

Welsh boost for Valletta as foreign quartet secure UK visas


Paul Zammit begins his second spell as Valletta coach this evening when the Whites take on Welsh side Newtown AFC in the first leg of their Europa League first qualifying round tie (kick-off 8.15pm).

His hopes of guiding the team to a positive result at Latham Park received a timely tonic yesterday with the news that four of the club’s foreign players – Tunisian Abdelkarim Nafti and new signings, Nigerian striker Calictus Umeh (Nigeria), Maksim Focsa, a Moldovan defender, and Thierry Tazemeta, a striker from Equatorial Guinea, will be available to face the Welsh minnows after visa compli-cations had jeopardised their participation in tonight’s game.

“The team has settled well since arriving in the UK on Tuesday,” Zammit told Times of Malta from Valletta’s base in Shrewsbury.

“We had four players travelling to Paris to sort out their UK visas but the problem has been solved.”

It goes without saying that the availability of Nafti, Umeh, the speedy striker who last played for Lithuanian club Ekranas, Focsa and Tazemeta is a boost for Valletta, moreso in the light of the absence of four key Maltese players, Jonathan Caruana, Roderick Briffa, Shaun Bajada and Steve Borg.

Caruana and Briffa will miss tonight’s match due to suspension, Bajada is on honeymoon and Borg is in Cyprus where he has undergone a medical ahead of his pro-posed move to Aris Limassol.

“When you consider that we already had a drawback with four players out of the first leg, this visa issue threatened to complicate matters for us,” Zammit said.

“I’m very pleased that it has been sorted out. A big thank you goes to the club’s top officials and technical staff. I must say that, despite the uncertainty caused by the issue, the mood has been very tranquil.”

The Valletta quartet were due to join up with their team-mates yesterday evening after spending a day in Paris to obtain a visa to enter Wales.

The Citizens had been unable to apply for a UK visa in Malta owing to time constraints.

On paper, Valletta look to have a distinct edge over Euro novices Newtown AFC but Zammit is not taking them lightly.

“At this level, if you don’t approach the game with the right mentality, you will be asking for trouble,” Zammit warned.

“We are taking it game by game. We are focusing on our match in Wales but in the context that the tie will be decided over two legs.

“We are playing the first leg away against a British team who rely a lot on physical strength. There are a lot of important aspects we need to pay attention to, especially from a tactical point of view.”

Newtown AFC finished sixth in the Welsh championship last season, a massive 39 points behind title winners The New Saints, but sneaked into the Europa League after edging Aberystwyth 2-1 in a play-off.

Although Zammit is not underestimating his opposition, he wants Valletta to impose themselves on the game as they look to strengthen their chances of setting up a second-round clash with Denmark’s FC Copenhagen.

“We have done our research on Newtown,” Zammit said.

“This is a team that base their game on physical power and have strikers suited to this kind of play. In the initial stages, we need to gauge the strength of the opposition but we have our own playing style and I expect my team to show this on the field of play.

“In the first leg of a European tie, it’s important to gain a positive result. We will try not to concede goals but we will also seek to impose our game.”

Source - Times of Malta