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Valletta 1973-74

Valletta Fc champions 1973-‘74

Valletta 1973-74During 1974-‘81, Valletta FC produced another winning formation. The popular Carlo Seychell and Vince ‘Maxi’ Magro were amongst the well known players of the time. With this squad Valletta FC won the championship, the FA trophy and the Independence Cup three times.
This success was the start-up for more wins in season 1973-‘74 championship. Although they were held in a draw during the first match against Floriana and another two consecutive draws against Zebbug Rangers and Hamrun Spartans, Valletta FC succeeded in ending the first round without any defeats.Valletta campione
During the beginning of the second round a defeat against rivals Floriana seemed to doom Valletta FC’s win. Nonetheless, Valletta FC soon got their vibe back and won the game. When Valletta FC lost against Sliema Wanderers there was a possibility of a decider, but a dramatic win against Hibernians, with a goal in the dying minutes of the match gave the Lilywhites the title after an absence of eleven years.
Valletta supporters celebrating the 9th league title after the victory against Hibernians FC (1-0).

Mario Bocchio


Empire Sports Ground, 1922-1981

EmpireStadiumEmpire Stadium later known as The Stadium was a multi-purpose stadium in Gżira, Malta. It was used mostly for football matches and hosted the home matches of the Maltese national football team, including the very first international match for Malta in 1957 against Austria. In addition, it also hosted the final of the Maltese Cup. The stadium was able to hold 30,000 spectators and originally opened in 1922. It was notorious for its sandy pitch. The stadium hosted its final game in 1981, being replaced by the modern Ta’ Qali Stadium.
Empire Stadium later known as The Stadium was a multi-purpose stadium in Gżira, Malta. It was used mostly for football matches and hosted the home matches of the Maltese national football team, including the very first international match for Malta in 1957 against Austria. In addition, it also hosted the final of the Maltese Cup. The stadium was able to hold 30,000 spectators and originally opened in 1922. It was notorious for its sandy pitch. The stadium hosted its final game in 1981, being replaced by the modern Ta’ Qali Stadium.Stadium
The stadium opened on 4 November 1922. The ground was inaugurated with an exhibition match between MFA XI and HMS Ajax. The Ground is where during the First World War the RAF had its balloon station and was leased by the Baruni Testaferrata Moroni Viani to his brother in law Carmelo ‘Meme’ Scicluna. With the opening of the Empire Sports Ground, the Mile-End Football Ground lost its importance. The Mile-End Football Ground was situated near Spencer’s Monument at Blata l-Bajda (limits of Hamrun) and was Malta’s main football stadium between 1912 and 1922.MaltaNationalTeam

Early in the 1930s Scicluna signed a contract with a British company in order to hold greyhound racing at the Empire Sports Ground. During the summer of 1933 the Sports Ground had to be pulled down. Work on a new stadium started immediately and the MFA First Division had to be postponed for some months.MaltaNationalTeam (1) Although not completed, the Empire Stadium was officially inaugurated on the 24th of December 1933 with a friendly match between Malta XI and SK Plzen of Czechoslovakia. Other sports activities such as boxing, athletics and motor-cycling were also held at the Empire Stadium.
An important event organized on a regular basis at the Empire Stadium was the Christmas Tournament, in which foreign teams played friendly matches against local teams during the Christmas holidays. Malta’s first-ever international match, a 2-3 defeat to Austria, was played on 24 February 1957 at the Empire Stadium.
League Champions Hibernians (European Cup) and FA Trophy Winners Floriana (Cup Winners’ Cup) were the first teams to take part in European Competitions in season 1961/62. After suffering a 0-5 defeat in the first leg, Hibernians lost 1-2 to Swiss champions Servette at the Empire Stadium. Ujpest of Hungary qualified to the next round on 15-4 aggregate score after beating Floriana FC 2-5 in the first leg. Leeds United (England), Ipswich Town (England), Manchester United (England), Juventus (Italy), Internazionale (Italy), Celtic (Scotland), Real Madrid (Spain) and Barcelona (Spain) were some of the teams involved in European Competitions matches played at the Empire Stadium.MaltaNationalTeam (6)
When the lease expired the owners took over the management. The owners changed the name of the ground to The Stadium and made it clear that they did not want to run it at a loss. The end of the lease saw a new cup called Testaferrata Cup replacing the Scicluna Cup.
During the summer of 1965, the MFA together with the affiliated clubs decided not to play at The Stadium following an argument with the management over the distribution of gate-money. Following lengthy discussions, the MFA decided to transfer all football activities for season 1965/66 to Manoel Island Football Ground. Everything returned to normal during the summer of 1966 when a solution was found. Football started to be held at The Stadium again in season 1966/67.MaltaNationalTeam (10)
During the 1970s the MFA was involved in a heated dispute with the Maltese government over the administration of the game. In an attempt to boost the local game the government started to organize football leagues at the Marsa Sports Ground without consulting the MFA. In the meantime the government officially inaugurated the newly built National Stadium (Ta’ Qali) on the 14th of December 1980 leaving the MFA out of the celebrations. Finally both parties managed to reach an agreement during the month of November 1981 following lengthy discussions. Football was finally transferred to the newly built turf stadium of Ta’ Qali. Sunday 29 November 1981 was the last time that The Stadium hosted a football match.


Sunday 4th November 1922 – The Empire Sports Ground was officially inaugurated with a friendly match between Malta XI and HMS Ajax (2-2).MaltaNationalTeam (14)

Saturday 11th May 1929 – Sliema Wanderers suffered a 1-7 defeat in a friendly match played against Tottenham Hotspur at the Empire Sports Ground. During their stay, the Spurs also played against Valletta United (1-2), Army (0-5), Navy (0-1), Floriana FC (1-2) and MFA XI (1-5). It was the first time that an English team had visited Malta.

Sunday 31st May 1931 – Floriana FC won the last edition of the Cousis Shield after defeating Sliema Wanderers 4-2 in the final.

Sunday 24th December 1933 – The Empire Stadium was officially inaugurated with a friendly match between Malta XI and SK Plzen of Czechoslovakia (1-5).

Sunday 25th February 1934 – About 15,000 paying spectators watched the Cassar Cup semifinal second replay between Hibernians and HMS Royal Sovereign (2-0). This was the third match between the two teams in seven days.

Sunday 2nd June 1935 – Sliema Wanderers won the first edition of the FA Trophy after defeating Floriana FC 4-0 in the final.

Sunday 28th May 1939 – The Amateurs of Melita defeated Sliema Wanderers 4-0 in final of the FA Trophy.MaltaNationalTeam (22)

Sunday 25th March 1945 – About 13,000 paying spectators watched the friendly match between MFA XI and SK Hajduks (2-5). The KOMR band played the British and Yugoslav National Anthems before the start of the match but ‘forgot’ the Maltese Anthem. In a few seconds, the Maltese crowd stood up and sang their Anthem. The KOMR band, realizing their mistake, played ‘L-Innu Malti’ at the end of the match.

Sunday 24th February 1957 – 17,421 paying spectators watched the match between Malta and Austria (2-3). This was Malta’s first-ever international match.

Wednesday 27th September 1967 – 23,500 paying spectators watched the match between Hibernians and Manchester United (0-0). The match was valid for the European Champions Cup 1967/68. The Red Devils defeated Benfica 4-1 in the final of the same edition.

Sunday 29th September 1968 – About 14,000 paying spectators watched the match between Sliema Wanderers and US Rumelange of Luxembourg (1-0). The match was valid for the Cup Winners’ Cup 1968/69. Sliema Wanderers were the first Maltese team to qualify to the next round of a European Competition.

Sunday 27th October 1968 – Valletta FC won the last edition of the Cassar Cup. In the final, the Lily Whites defeated Sliema Wanderers 2-1.MaltaNationalTeam (25)

Thursday 17th September 1970 – About 15,000 paying spectators watched the match between Hibernians and Real Madrid (0-0). The match was valid for the Cup Winners’ Cup 1970/71. Chelsea FC defeated Real Madrid 3-2 on aggregate in the final of the same edition.

Wednesday 3rd February 1971 – 29,751 paying spectators watched the match between Malta and England (0-1). The match was valid for the European Nations Cup Qualifying Round Group 3. Martin Peters scored the winning goal for England.

Wednesday 13th September 1972 – FA Trophy holders Floriana FC obtained a prestigious win after defeating Ferencvaros of Hungary 1-0 thanks to an early Louis Arpa goal. The match was valid for the Cup Winners’ Cup 1972/73.

Sunday 23rd February 1975 – 8,621 paying spectators witnessed Malta’s very first competitive win in a match won against Greece (2-0). The match was valid for the European Nations Cup Qualifying Round Group 8. Richie Aquilina and Vincent ‘Maxi’ Magro scored the winning goals.

Sunday 6th June 1976 – The FA Trophy Final between Floriana FC and Valletta FC was abandoned in the 87th minute due to crowd trouble. Floriana FC were declared as winners.

Sunday 7th December 1980 – 5,555 paying spectators watched the match between Malta and Poland (0-2). The match was abandoned in the 78th minute due to crowd trouble. The match was valid for the World Cup Qualifying Round Group 7 (European Zone).

Saturday 4th April 1981 – 3,873 paying spectators watched the match between Malta and East Germany (1-2). The match was valid for the World Cup Qualifying Round Group 7 (European Zone). This was the last match the Maltese national team played at The Stadium.


Sunday 31st May 1981 – Floriana FC won the FA Trophy after defeating Senglea Athletic 2-1 in the final. This was the last FA Trophy final to be played at The Stadium.


Sunday 29th November 1981 – The Premier League encounter between Sliema Wanderers and Senglea Athletic (1-1) was the last one played at The Stadium. Following this match, all Premier League matches were transferred to the newly built National Stadium in Ta’ Qali.

Mario Bocchio

Floriana 1974-75

Football retro 1973, Club Brugge – Floriana

Floriana 1974-75Floriana is the oldest club in Malta, founded in 1894. They hail from the city with the same name near the state’s capital. Well, almost the same name – in Maltese, the city is Furjana, but the club preserves the British name. In 1905 they played against the Dublin Fusiliers regiment, stationed on the island at the time, and after the final whistle the soldiers expressed desire the club start using their colours. The club obliged and plays in green and white ever since, thus acquiring the nickname ‘Tal-Irish’. 140px-Club_Brugge_KVFloriana also published regularly a club magazine since 1949 – ‘Evergreen’. It was a bulletin really, but still the Maltese were years ahead of most clubs in the world. They collected titles too and as far as Maltese football goes, were major force. This was to change, but not yet. So far – champions.Floriana1972
The Cup went to Valletta FC. The club is younger by almost 20 years than Floriana, but they are the best known Maltese club in Europe – unlike fading Floriana, Valletta remained steadily on top and however shortly, they were constant participants in the European Cups. Hardly ever went beyond the first stage, but at least always around.






Champions League

Season    Competition    Round    Club              Home    Away    Aggregate
1973–’74  European Cup   1. Round Club Brugge   0–2        0–8       0–10


Mario Bocchio



Valletta 1983-‘84, champions

1983-‘84 season proved a fantastic start for Valletta F.C. They won the second edition of the Euro Challenge Cup, a competition between the three local teams participating in European competitions that season.04a_-vfc-1983-84
Valletta FC beat Rabat Ajax 2-0 and were held in a draw against Hamrun Spartans 1-1. Even though Hamrun Spartans were favourites to retain the championship for the second season, at the end Valletta FC were crowned champions for the twelfth time in their football history.

04a_vfc-1985-86Under the guidance of coach Joe Cilia, Valletta FC won ten points from seven matches and continued by winning the championship pool after beating Hamrun Spartans 1-0 in a decisive match.
After this success, it seemed that the Lilywhites were having a long break and after six seasons they were crowned champions once more.

Jesmond Zerafa, born on August 3, 1965. Zerafa is a product of the Valletta FC Nursery and was introduced in the premier League in season 1982-‘83.
In season 1984-‘85, Zerafa joined Tarxien Rainbows, he returned with Valletta FC in season 1986-‘87. He had a fabulous season and scored an important goal against champions Rabat Ajax and managed to break the champions unbeaten record.


During season 1986-‘87, he became an automatic choice in the Citizens squad and was also included in the squad that played against Juventus FC in the Uefa Cup. Jesmond also had several appearances with the National team.
Jesmond ended his football career with Birkirkara Luxol in season 1996-‘97. He started a coaching career in the Valletta FC Nursery and coached the Under 18 section. The following year he was appointed as assistant coach with Bulgarian coach Krasimir Manolov. That season was one that Jesmond never forgets, Valletta won the six honours in the Maltese local football.
In season 2001-‘02, Zerafa joined Tarxien Rainbows and managed to win promotion to the First Division. In the following season he missed the Promotion to the Premier League and in season 2003-‘04 he won the First Division Knock-Out with Tarxien Rainbows.


Jesmond Zerafa joined Qormi FC in the summer of 2007 and was appointed team manager. During his first year with Qormi, he won the promotion to the Premier Division and succeeded in keeping the team in the Premier Division. In the following season Qormi kept their place in the Premier league, reached the final of the U*Bet FA Trophy and played against Sliema Wanderers in a decider to book a place in the Europa League.
In May 2010, Jesmond Zerafa joined Valletta FC after his contract with Qormi FC had expired.

Small and slender with a pair of spindly legs that would not last the postman one morning – this is how one may well describe the physique of Joe Zarb. Yet, he was one of the greatest goal-scorers. His 140 goals in 281 league matches is a record few Maltese players could equal.Joe_Zarb
Joe Zarb was league top scorers four times, three of them in succession. He also won 24 major honours in a career spanning over 21 season, which make him one of the most honoured players in candidate for the greatest Maltese goal-scorer of all time.
Although born and bred in Zabbar, Joe never played for his home-town club. It seems he had a lot of friends from Cospicua and these encouraged hin to join Cospicua St Joseph’s. This amateur team did not play in any league but restricted its activities to playing friendly Sunday morning football.
It was while playing in one of these matches that Joe was spotted by Peppi Delceppo. The St George’s mentor did not lose the opportunity of adding Zarb to his brood of youngsters.
Joe Zarb joind St George’s FC in 1980-‘81 and he made his first-team debut late in the season as a substitute for Charlie Cassar. His advance was slow and in the following two seasons he only played once more for the first team and that was as a substitute.
In 1983-‘84, he was given an extended run in the first team that produced the first four goals of his career. Peppi Delceppo never stopped believing in Zarb’s talent. Despite Joe’s slender frame, Peppi saw in the lad an extraordinary ability to score goals. Peppi was not the only one to recognise Joe’s potential and at the start of the 1984-‘85 season Hamrun Spartans made a successful bid for his transfer.
The move to Hamrun was the turning point in Zarb’s career. Before long he was hitting in the goals with a regular rhythm. Yet, despite winning two championship medals with Hamrun, the Spartans surprisingly let him slip through their fingers. Perhaps they did not fully realise his potential or, maybe, the reason might have been the fact that they had another prolific goal-scorer in Stefan Sultana in their ranks. Whatever the reason, midway through the 1987-‘88 season, they accepted Valletta’s offer for his signature.
That season Zarb was involved in a curious and unique record. In a campaign consisting of 14 games, he played 15 times! Joe played in the Spartans’ first seven games of the season before he was transferred to Valletta with whom he played in the last eight games. Hamrun went on to win the championship; therefore, he qualified for a championship medal when he was playing for Valletta!
Joe stayed with Valletta up to the end of the 1998-‘99 season forming part of the all-conquering City edition that dominated Maltese football in the 1990s. Then a serious eye injury cost him his place in the first team. Over time, he recovered from the injury but the following season he was transferred to Gozo FC who had just been promoted for the first time to the Premier Division.
Joe passed an uneventful season with Gozo. It was the only season in his career in which he did not score a single goal. At the end of the season, he joined Zurrieq FC in the First Division. For Zarb it was anothet mediocre season and when Zurrieq were relegated he decided to retire.
He had only two regrets in his career. The first was his failure to win the Footballer of the Year award and the other was the way he was continually passed over by the national team selectors. Just 10 full caps are a meagre reward for a goal-scorer of his calibre, especially when one compares his record with that of other international strikers whose number of international appearances are three or four times that number.
Joe ‘Brimba’ Zarb left behind him memories of an honest and dedicated footballer. Above all, he was a prolific goal-scorer – a lesson to those who think that to succeed in football one must be big and brawny.

Born on March 23, 1967, Kris started his career in 1983 with Luxol St Andrew’s in the Third Division. Although still 16, he immediately commanded a place in the first team and his obvious potential was already attracting the attention of the Premier League clubs. Valletta were the first to make a bid for his signature and at the start of the 1985-‘86 season he joined the City club on loan.K-Laferla
Kristian Laferla had a quite a good season with Valletta. In 1986-‘87, he returned to St Andrew’s but after playing three games in the Third Division he returned to Valletta FC on a permanent basis. He settled down immediately in his new surroundings and after a short while he became one of the mainstays of the City team.
The nineties were the greatest period in the history of Valletta FC. The Citizens’ domination of Maltese football was so complete that they eclipsed the achievements of the traditional leaders of Maltese football, Sliema and Floriana.
During his stay with the club, Laferla won an incredible total of 25 major honours and only injuries prevented him from winning a handful of others, this makes him one of the most honoured players in the history of the game. Laferla, however has had one big disappointment …. for some reason or another, he never won the MFA Footballer of the Year award.
This prestigious individual award depends, to some extent, on circumstances which have nothing to do with the performance of the players concerned. Luck is also a factor.

Sometimes it happens that a player enjoys his best season at a time when competing for that award is very intense. On the other hand a player can also land the honour despite not achieving excellence simply because the level of performances that season was generally below standard.
Laferla played his first game for Malta on November 14, 1986 in the European Championship against Sweden and played his last game against Latvia in 1998. In between, he played 65 times for his country and scored six goals. This is an excellent total for a midfielder, especially for a small country like Malta where positive results are rare.
During the Christmas period of 2002, Laferla was transferred to Sliema Wanderers. This certainly came as a surprise for the City faithful. He made his debut with the Blues on January 19th against Marsa (5-0). With Sliema Wanderers Laferla won two Championships and also the FA Trophy against Marsaxlokk in May 2004. Laferla played a total of 50 games with the Wanderers before retiring at the end of season 2004-‘05.


After 17 eventful season, Laferla had become very much part of the City set-up and it was hard to imagine the team without him.
Time was very kind and gentle with Laferla. Despite being well in his 30s, he remained fit and although at the age he should have been thinking of retirement, he still contributed significantly to the Blues’ success.
By the time he head decided to retire, Laferla had already carved a niche for himself as one of the great players of the Maltese football.

by Mario Bocchio

Quando partì con una sconfitta contro il Valletta il 2008 della Juve

Non si può certo dire che sia un esordio fortunato per il 2008 della Juventus. Nell’amichevole compresa nel programma del mini-ritiro invernale contro il Valletta di Malta arriva una sconfitta ai rigori dopo una brutta partita terminata sull’1 a 1. Si tratta solo di un’amichevole, di “un allenamento”, ovvio, ma la sfida di sabato contro il Catania al Massimino è vicinissima e qualche preoccupazione per i tifosi bianconeri è legittima.


Ranieri manda in campo 2 formazioni diverse per 9/11esimi fra il primo e il secondo tempo con le eccezioni di Grygera e Marchionni (con tutta probabilità destinati alla panchina sabato), ma nessuno dei giocatori mandati in campo mostra di avere grandi motivazioni e apparentemente una forma scintillante a sostenerli. Nel primo tempo Del Piero compone una coppia d’attacco con Ruben Olivera, l’uruguagio recalcitante a partire per Genova seguendo le orme di Criscito, a centrocampo Zanetti insieme ad un altro probabile partente per Monaco, almeno nelle intenzioni della società: Sergio Bernardo Almiron.
Proprio l’argentino è una delle note più stonate della brutta serata juventina. Nervoso, lento ed inconcludente e sul punto di scatenare una rissa con il capitano de La Valletta per futili motivi. Inguardabile. I giocatori (semi-professionisti) della squadra campione di Malta ce la mettono tutta e puntano a fare bella figura, ma con il passare del minuti sembrano più increduli che altro di fronte alla difficoltà della Juventus di sfondare.


Il vantaggio firmato proprio da Olivera in prossimità del fischio finale del primo tempo potrebbe essere il viatico per una vittoria in scioltezza, ma dopo nemmeno due minuti La Valletta pareggia con il gol di Molesterolo propiziato da una mezza papera di Birindelli e Buffon.
La Juve 2 che entra in campo nel secondo tempo con Trezeguet e Iaquinta in attacco supportati da Nocerino e Tiago dovrebbe ristabilire i valori in campo, ma nessuno dei pericoli costruiti dai bianconeri si tramuta in gol e La Valletta avrebbe avuto anche le sue buone chance per portarsi in vantaggio dopo azioni di contropiede.
Al fischio finale il risultato è ancora inchiodato sull’1 a 1, ma la formula del “Trofeo Bet Fair” (alla sua prima edizione) contempla l’obbligo di arrivare ad un vincitore e nella lotteria dei rigori con il portiere di riserva Belardi in campo i Maltesi prevalgono 5-4 grazie agli errori di Nocerino e Legrottaglie dal dischetto.
In campo si rivede anche Boumsong dopo il lungo infortunio, la prestazione non dice molto sulle sue condizioni, ma il risultato non è certamente una buona “pubblicità” vista la volontà di Alessio Secco e Jean Claude Blanc di disfarsene nel mercato di gennaio.

servizio a cura di Mario Bocchio

Balo Nazionale

Champions e Europa League 2013-14: ecco che facce vedremo

Si è appena conclusa la stagione delle coppe, con il successo del Bayern sul Borussia e la vittoria del Chelsea in Europa League. Ma è già tempo per andare a vedere come si comporranno le due competizioni continentali nella prossima stagione.

Ventidue squadre già ai gironi: le altre dieci usciranno dai playoff che si giocheranno ad agosto. Cinque squadre sono già al loro posto per quella che è l’ultima fase eliminatoria (Milan, Arsenal, Schalke, Pacos de Ferreira e molto probabilmente il Valencia). Le altre quindici usciranno dalla lunga lista di incontri preliminari, che per qualcuno iniziano addirittura a luglio. La presenza del Pacos de Ferreira è la sorpresa più grande: la squadra portoghese si è piazzata terza al termine di un campionato al di sopra di ogni aspettativa. Lo stadio di poco più di cinquelmila posti non è assolutamente pronto ad ospitare la Champions, ma Os Castores non vogliono fermarsi proprio sul più bello. Chi viene eliminato dal playoff di Champions finisce in Europa League. La finale si giocherà allo stadio Da Luz di Lisbona.

Qualificate alla fase a gironi: Juventus (Ita), Napoli (Ita), Barcellona (Spa), Real Madrid (Spa), Atletico Madrid (Spa), Manchester United (Ing), Manchester City (Ing), Chelsea (Ing), Paris Saint-Germain (Fra), Marsiglia (Fra), Bayern Monaco (Ger), Borussia Dortmund (Ger), Bayer Leverkusen (Ger), Porto (Por), Benfica (Por), Ajax (Ola), Shakhtar Donetsk (Ucr), Olympiacos (Gre), Galatasaray (Tur), Copenhagen (Dan), Cska Mosca (Rus), Anderlecht (Bel).

Playoff Champions League (20-21; 27-28 Agosto): Pacos de Ferreira (Por), Schalke 04 (Ger), Arsenal (Ing), Milan (Ita), la quarta classificata in Spagna (attualmente il Valencia).

Terzo turno preliminari di Champions League (30-31; 6-7 Luglio): Lione (Fra), Psv Eindhoven (Ola), Apoel (Cip), Zenit (Rus), Fenerbahce (Tur), Nordsiaelland (Dan), Zulte-Waregem (Bel), Metalist (Ucr), Austria Vienna (Aus), Red Bull Salisburgo, Basilea (Svi), altra squadra svizzera (Grassoppher o San Gallo), Paok (Gre).

Secondo turno preliminari di Champions League (16-17; 23-24 Luglio): Maccabi Tel Aviv (Isr), Sligo Rovers (Irl), FH (Isl), Celtic (Sco), Dinamo Zagabria (Cro), Steaua Bucarest (Rom), Bate Borisov (Bie), Cliftonville (Eir), Slovan Bratislava (Slovacchia), Gyor (Ung), Zeljeznicar (Bos), Maribor (Slo), Sheriff Tiraspol (Mol), Neftchi (Aze), Birkirkara (Mal), Vardar (Mac), Sutjeska (Montenegro), vincente campionato ceco (attualmente Viktoria Plzen in testa), Elfsborg (Sve), Molde (Nor), HJK (Fin), Dinamo Tbilisi (Geo), Ekranas (Lit), Daugava (Let), Shakhter Karagandy (Kaz), Skenderbeu (Alb), The New Saints (Gal), Nomme (Est).

Primo turno preliminari di Champions League (2-3; 9-10 Luglio): Shirak (Arm), EB/Streimur (Far), Lusitanos (And).

Qui la composizione della competizione è ancora in alto mare. Ci sono le certezze per quanto riguarda le squadre che hanno vinto le coppe nazionali, quello sì. Ad esempio la Lazio, che non dovrà affrontare nessun turno preliminare a differenza di Udinese (due turni) e Fiorentina (uno). La finale si giocherà allo Juventus Stadium di Torino.

Qualificate dirette in Europa League: Wigan (Ing), Lazio (Ita), Vitoria de Guimaraes (Por), Anzhi (Rus)

Playoff di Europa League (22-29 Agosto): Totthenam (Ing), Friburgo (Ger), Fiorentina (Ita), Braga (Por), Az (Ola), Feyenoord (Ola), Dynamo Kiev (Ucr), Genk (Bel), Esbjerg (Dan),

Terzo turno preliminare di Europa League (1-8 Agosto): Swansea C. (Ing), Saint-Étienne (Fra), Udinese (Ita), Estoril (Por), Eintracht Francoforte (Ger), Vitesse (Ola), Dnipro (Ucr), Besiktas (Tur), Club Brugge (Bel), Randers (Dan), Hapoel Ramat (Isr), Jablonec (Rep.Cec).

Secondo turno preliminare di Europa League (18-25 Luglio): Metalurg Donetsk (Ucr), Bursaspor (Tur), Anorthosis (Cip), Lokomotiva (Cro), Jagodina (Ser), Omonia (Cip), Hapoel Tel Aviv (Isr), Strømsgodset (Nor), Honka (Fin), St. Johnstone (Sco), Legia Varsavia (Pol), Beroe Stara Zagora (Bul), Siroki (Bos), Maccabi Haifa (Isr), Motherwell (Sco), Shakhtyor Salihorsk (Bie), Häcken (Sve), Hødd (Nor), Derry City (Irl)

Primo turno preliminare di Europa League (4-11 Luglio): IBV (Isl), Vaduz (Lie), Kukësi (Alb), Airbus UK Broughton (Gal), Levadia Tallinn (Est), Flora Tallinn (Est), Narva Trans (Est), Crusaders (N.Irl), Glentoran (N.Irl), Linfield (N.Irl), Mika (Arm), Pyunik (Arm), Inter Turku (Fin), Tps (Fin), Dila Gori (Geo), Víkingur (Is.Far), IF (Is.Far), HB (Is.Far), FC Santa Coloma (And), La Fiorita (S.Mar), Zilina (Slovacchia), Dinamo Minsk (Bie), Malmo (Sve), Rosenborg (Nor), Zalgiris Vilnius (Lit), Sūduva Marijampolė (Lit), Skonto (Let), Ventspils (Let), Liepājas Metalurgs (Let), KR (Isl), Breiðablik (Isl), Torpedo Kutaisi (Geo), Sarajevo (Bos), Olimpia Lubiana (Slo), Kruoja Pakruojis (Lit), Dacia Chisinau (Mol), Tiraspol (Mol), Milsami Orhei (Mol), Drogheda United (Irl), St Patrick’s Athletic (Irl), Astana (Kaz), Irtysh Pavlodar (Kaz), Aktobe (Kaz), Khazar Lankaran (Aze), Qarabag (Aze), Inter Baku (Aze), Laci (Alb), Teuta Durres (Alb), Hibernians (Mal), Valletta (Mal), Sliema Wanderers (Mal), Prestatyn Town (Gal), Bala Town (Gal), Jeunesse Esch (Lus), Gandzasar (Arm), Mariehamn (Fin), Gefle (Sve), Tromso (Sve).



Valletta 1973-’74: champions after eleven years

Valletta 1973-’74. Left: Alfred Debono, Joe Borg, Norman Darmanin Demajo, Tony Ciantar, Eddie Vella, Vince Gauci. Squatting: Charles Galea, Charles Agius, Denis Fenech, Carlo Seychell, Tony Giglio

During 1974-‘81, Valletta FC produced another winning formation. The popular Carlo Seychell and Vince ‘Maxi’ Magro were amongst the well known players of the time. With this squad Valletta FC won the championship, the FA trophy and the Independence Cup three times.
This success was the start-up for more wins in season 1973-‘74 championship. Although they were held in a draw during the first match against Floriana and another two consecutive draws against Zebbug Rangers and Hamrun Spartans, Valletta FC succeeded in ending the first round without any defeats.
During the beginning of the second round a defeat against rivals Floriana seemed to doom Valletta FC’s win. Nonetheless, Valletta FC soon got their vibe back and won the game. When Valletta FC lost against Sliema Wanderers there was a possibility of a decider, but a dramatic win against Hibernians, with a goal in the dying minutes of the match gave the Lilywhites the title after an absence of eleven years.

Three Cups in one season

In season 1974-‘75, Valletta FC won three honours from five. They won the FA Trophy, the Independence Cup and the Sons of Malta Cup. On May 25, in front of a large crowd, Valletta FC faced Hibernians in the final of the FA Trophy. The Hibernians eliminated Floriana in the semi-final.

During the first half both set of players seemed nervous but during the second half the game became much more interesting. It was Valletta who scored the important goal when a shot by Carlo Seychell was partially saved by Freddie Mizzi and from the rebound the ball hit Norman Buttigieg and ended in the net.
In season 1976-‘77 under the guidance of Italian coach Terenzio Polverini, Valletta FC started the season on a bad patch but nonetheless won the FA trophy for the fourth time without conceding a goal under the guidance of coach Lolly Debattista.
During the final of the FA Trophy Valletta FC faced rivals Floriana. It was a very exciting final with both teams proving their worth. Floriana were playing really well in the first half but Valletta FC piled the pressure on their opponents after Nardu Farrugia opened the score.
With this victory a series of 37 positive matches by Floriana came to a halt.

Carlo Seychell was born on March 12, 1949 in Pietà. He started his football career at the age of 14 with Valletta Vanguards from where he graduated to Valletta FC’s junior strings. He made his first-team debut on October 1, 1967 as a substitute for Josie Urpani in the league match against Hibernians. This however, was an isolated appearance for the youngster and it was not until 1969-70 that he finally established himself in the first team. Seychell soon caught the critical eye of the City supporters and during that season he made six league appearances. He also scored his first goal for the Citizens in the secound round 1-0 victory over Hibs. He kept his place for for the FA Trophy, scoring two goals in the 5-0 victory over Gzira United in the quarter-finals. During the next few seasons, Seychell together with Vince Magro became the ‘darling’ of the City crowd. His spurts down the left wing electrified the crowd. 1973-‘74 was the start of a great era for Valletta. Between 1973 and 1980 the Citizens won the league championship and the FA Trophy three times each. Although not a pure striker, Seychell scored 50 goals for Valletta in 177 league appearances. 1974-‘75 was probably his best season, scoring nine league goals and finishing secound in the top scorers’ list behind Ray Xuereb of Floriana. 1977-’78 was a glorious season for Valletta. Seychell played in all 18 league matches, leading the team to the league championship. His fine form continued in the FA Trophy. He notched a hat-trick in the quarter final against Msida St. Joseph’s. He scored against Marsa in the semi-final and was instrumental in Valletta’s 3-2 victory over arch-rivals Floriana in the final. Seychell now had the world at his feet and he continued to reign over the City clan up to 1982 when he was surprisingly transferred to Hamrun Spartans. Valletta’s loss however proved to be Hamrun’s gain. Seychell went on to win his fourth championship medal and help the Spartans to win their first championship in 38 years. Luck deserted him midway through the season. He suffered a serious injury which eventually forced him to retire from the game. Seychell had a distinguished international career. He played 22 times for Malta and 14 times for Valletta in European competitions.

Joe ‘Pesu’ Borg, born on May 19, 1949 in Valletta. He made his debut with the Citizens on November 12, 1966. He wore the white shirt for nine season, played in 86 matches and scored five goals. Through his career with Valletta Joe won the championship in (1973-‘74), the FA Trophy (1974-‘75), Sons of Malta Cup (1974-‘75), Independance Cup (1968-‘69). He took part in four European Competitions, twice in Champions Cup (1973-‘74) against HJK Helsinki and twice in UEFA Cup (1972-‘73) against Italian side Inter. Joe ‘Pesu’ Borg wore the National shirt three times, made his debut in the European Nations Cup on December 22, 1974 against West Germany. At the age of 14, Joe joined the Valletta Vanguards. At that time the Valletta Vanguards possed a number of players which formed part of the Valletta FC squad that won the 1973-‘74 championship, the team cocnsited of Charles Agius, Tony Giglio, Vincet ‘Maxi’ Magro, Charles Galea, Joe Cassar, Tony Ciantar, Carlo Seychell, Emanuel Galea and others. These Vangaurds players were introduced with the Valletta FC minors team under the guidance of Eddie Xuereb. The first two players from this group who suceeded in joing the Citizens first team were Vince ‘Maxi’ Magro and Tony Giglio. Joe Borg made his debut with the first team in November 1966 in a league match against Hibernians. Joe retired from football at the age of 27, during his career he only played with the team of his hometown Valletta FC.

Vince ‘Maxi’ Magro born in Valletta on July 24, 1952. At an early age of 17 he was called to jin the senior squad and made his debut on February 17, 1970. Vince played 163 matches in 14 season and scored 43 goals. Vince Magro won several honours with Valletta, four Championships (1972-‘73, 1977-‘78, 1979-‘80, 1983-‘84) three FA Trophies (1974-‘75, 1976-‘77, 1977-‘78) twice the Independence Cup (1974-‘75, 1979-‘80) twice Sons of Malta Cup (1974-‘75, 1978-‘79) and twice Testaferrata Cup (1979-‘80). He played in thirteen European Competitions, six in the Champions Cup and three in the UEFA Cup. Vince alsp played for the National Team in the UEFA Amateur Championship 1973. He made his debut with the National Team on September 28, 1973, vs Canada 2-0. He scored two goals, the most famous goal against Greece (2-0) on February 23, 1975. During his first year with Citizens, Valletta FC won the Championship without no defeats. ‘Maxi’ Magro made his debut with Valletta FC on February 1970 in the match against Sliema Wanderes (0-1). Vince remained with Valletta untill 1983-84. He joined Luxol St. Andrew’s in Third Division, he stayed there for three years untill he retired from Football.

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Valletta-Inter, 1972

article by Mario Bocchio (source Valletta Fc)


Valletta, the best formation

Valletta 1958-59. Left to right: Alfred Borg, Joseph Zammit, Josie. Urpani, Frankie. Zammit, Jackie Grech, Joe Cilia, Charles Mackay, Mario Azzopardi, John Darmanin, Tommy Taylor and Walter Bone

Many suggest that one of the best formations Valletta FC had was the one in seasons between 1958 and 63. During this time Valletta FC won the Championship three times, namely, the FA Trophy, the Cassar Cup and the Scicluna Cup.
The usual formation consisted of: Tommy Taylor, Walter Bone, Edwin Schembri, Charlie Mackay, Joe Cilia, Jackie Grech, Joe Zammit, Josie Urpani, Mario Azzopardi, Frankie Zammit and Alfred Borg.
Jock Gilmour was their trainer in season 1958-‘59. Valletta FC had a great start but in the first round there were doubts about the potential of the team when they were held in a draw three times and also lost some matches. But the Valletta FC’s strength came much later, when they won seven consecutive matches.
The triumph continued when the team won the Cassar Cup against Hamrun Spartans 2-1. Valletta FC nearly won the Triple Crown during the final of the FA Trophy. In the final of this competition the Lilywhites were winning 1-0 against Sliema Wanderers but in the dying minutes of the match Sammy Nicholl equalised for the Wanderers. After extra time the match ended in a draw result. During the replay Valletta FC started as favourites but a fortunate goal landed the FA Trophy to Sliema Wanderers.
The 1959-‘60 season was a copy of the previous one. Valletta FC retained the title but this time they won the FA Trophy for the first time, but unfortunately they missed the Triple Crown losing the Cassar Cup.
During 1960-‘61 season Hibernians managed to stop the Valletta FC’s monopoly. Although Valletta lost the Championship and FA Trophy, they won the Scicluna Cup 3-1 and stopped the control that the Wanderers had on the Scicluna Cup.
This brilliant edition came to an end when Tommy Taylor returned to his country; Joe Cilia, Joe Zammit, Alfred Borg and Mario Azzopardi emigrated while Jackie Grech retired from football.
The Previous edition 1963-‘65 which was made up of many famous players including Stivala, Carbonaro, Charlie Williams, Leonard Mizzi, brothers Vassallo, Chircop, Gauci, John Attard and others also won many honours.
This formation won the FA Trophy in season 1963-‘64 against Sliema Wanderers 1-0 and the Scicluna Cup final against rivals Floriana 2-0 in the final. In 1965-‘66 season, they won the Cassar Cup eliminating Sliema Wanderers in the final 3-1.
The success made by Valletta FC in the Cassar Cup continued in 1968-‘69 season, they won the last edition of the Cup against Sliema Wanderes 2-1.

Joe Cilia began his football career as a teenager at Rabat F.C. who introduced him in the First Division in 1953-‘54. He played 30 league matches for Rabat F.C. before joining Valletta F.C. in season 1956/57.
As a Citizen, Joe Cilia won all football honours, including twice the title of Footballer of the Year (1957-‘58 and 1963-‘64).
Joe Cilia’s polished play earned him many international caps in the first years of international matches for Malta.
At the peak of his career, Joe Cilia emigrated to Australia, where he continued his playing activity as a player-coach to Melita Eagles (the Maltese team) and as a player with Sutherland and Corinthians (1964-1972). He joined Valletta F.C. in 1971-‘72 for another two year spell.
During his 19-year career at top level football Joe Cilia was a keen student of the game and he was determined to put something back unto the game.
Joe won the Westin Dragonara Award in 2003 and Gieh ir-Rabat in 2004 in appreciation for his 48 years of continuous contribution to his only passion, which is football.

Joe Zammit (Ginger) had one of the shortest careers in the history of the Maltese football. Yet, in only five season he achievd much more than other less gifted footballers could carm in a lifetime. At 18, he had already won a league championship medal and he was already considered to be a good prospect for the full National XI.
Born in Lija on April 29, 1941, he started his career with Sliema Exters, which was founded in 1950. It was one of several junior teams formed in and around Sliema during that fabulous period in the history of the game.
Sliema Exters were a team from Gzira. They had their headquarters not far from Manoel Island Bridge but their founder, S. Pace was a keen supporter and he gave the team a Sliema name. The team had in its ranks a handful of promising youngsters. Centre-foward Alfred Pace, left back Vincent Relton and half-back Vincent Calleja come readily to mind but the boy whoe really made the grade in senior soccer was Ginger Joe Zammit.
Then ony 12, Zammit was no stranger to the Sliema supporters. They must have seen him many times trooping out of the dressing rooms with the team, immaculately dressed as the Wanderers` mascot.
At this age, Joe Zammit`s talent was already obvious and his amazing dribbling and strong shots were already being noted. His biggest ambition was that one day he would play for Sliema Wanderers.

Valletta 1960

Zammit certainly made the grade in first-class football but not with Sliema. He started with the Wanderes but he migrated to Valletta with whom he made his debut against Banik Ostrava on Christmas Day 1958. Joe scored the all-important goal in a 1-0 victory for the Citizens and from then on he retained his place in the team.
A touch-line hugging winger of the old style, Zammit soon became one of the best fowards in the game – at a time when football in Malta was blessed with some of the best fowards in the history of the game. His persistent good form earned him a place in the Malta Olympic XI squad and the full National XI for whom he played three times.
In 1958-‘59 and 1959-‘60, he won two consecutive championships with the Citizens. Then in 1960-‘61, the one-time Sliema mascot really made it good for Valletta. In 1959-‘60, he tied for the Footballer of the Year award with Louis Theobald of Hibernians and only a deciding vote gave the trophy to the Hibs` player. However, his brilliant form earned him the trophy the following season.
The sky seemed to be the limit for this fine player but then his career in Malta came suddenly to an end when he emigrated to Australia. During the close season, George Cross, the Maltese club in Melbourne invited Zammit to join the club and he accepted.
The Cith fans were stunned but they really could not do anything but curse their bad luck. However, memories of this fine player still linger on among the City faithful.

John Darmanin was born in Vittoriosa on September 4, 1938. He started playing football while he attended the De La Salle collage at the age of 10. Later on John joined Vittoriosa Stars. During his spell with vittoriosa the club won promotion from 3rd to 2nd division and from 2nd to 1st division.
At the age of 17 he was chosen as a guest player with Sliema Wanderers during the FA Trophy. During this match John left a good impression and several top clubs showed interest in him. He chose Valletta F.C. and signed a contract with the club. He played for Valletta F.C. from 1958-1964. With the Lillywhites, Darmanin won three championships, Scicluna Cup vs Floriana and the Cassar Cup. John left Valletta F.C. in season 1964 and joined St. Georges FC, he won the first division championship with the club.
During his career John also played with Malta best 11, which was the National Team at those days. He also formed part of the National U/21 squad. During his coaching career John Darmanin coached St. Georges FC and Vittoriosa Stars FC.

Mario Bocchio

Prandelli a Malta

A Prandelli resta un dubbio: Cerci. I numeri di Buffon

Prandelli durante il sopralluogo allo stadio Ta’ Qali

In vista della sfida di questa sera contro Malta al Ct della nazionale Cesare Prandelli resta un dubbio di formazione: Giaccherini o Cerci?
L’allenatore degli Azzurri ha provato lunedì in allenamento il consolidato 4-3-1-2, con il bianconero nello stesso ruolo di incursore sperimentato giovedì a Ginevra contro il Brasile, ma anche il 4-3-3.
Se la scelta alla fine dovesse essere questa, fin dal primo minuto sarebbe schierato Cerci, che ha ben figurato nel secondo tempo contro i verdeoro. Il granata potrebbe comunque trovare spazio nel corso della ripresa, visto che Prandelli ha dimostrato di avere a disposizione una squadra che può tranquillamente cambiare modulo anche in corsa.
In attacco la coppia d’attacco sarà tutta rossonera, con Balotelli-El Shaarawy (il romanista Osvaldo è squalificato): è questa la scelta per la partita di qualificazione dell’Italia allo stadio di Ta’Qali. “Ma la formazione non la do – ha puntualizzato l’ex mister della Fiorentina – perché ho un dubbio tra Giaccherini e Cerci”.

La pubblicità del match a Malta

“Sarà una partita semplice solo se saremo bravi a creare certi spazi, troveremo una squadra ben organizzata, che sa raddoppiare e intercettare – avverte Prandelli -. Malta è come una squadra di club, con giocatori che si allenano tre volte alla settimana”.
Lo stesso Prandelli ha già individuato la prima, vera minaccia maltese per la sua nazionale: il vento. L’aereo degli Azzurri è infatti atterrato a La Valletta lunedì sera e subito le condizioni atmosferiche trovate dal gruppo sull’isola del cuore del Mediterraneo ha fatto storcere il naso al Ct.
“Questo forte maestrale non ci lascia tranquilli – ancora Prandelli -. Potrebbe far perdere la concentrazione ai giocatori che non sono abituati a scendere in campo in queste condizioni”.
Parole di elogio poi per Ghedin, il tecnico italiano degli isolani: “Sta facendo un grande lavoro con la nazionale maltese, a Modena nell’andata evevo visto una squadra ben messa in campo e molto ordinata”.

Buffon e il portiere maltese Hogg dopo la sfida dell’andata a Modena

Decisamente meno preoccupati Stephan El Shaarawy e Mario Balotelli. I due milanisti, oltre ad essere certi, come detto, di partire titolari, hanno infatti seguito nella cabina del pilota l’atterraggio del charter Alitalia che ospitava la truppa azzurra. “Fichissimo”, si è lasciato sfuggire il Faraone al momento dell’arrivo all’aeroporto di Luqa. Il forte maestrale, tanto temuto da Prandelli, non ha complicato l’atterraggio del velivolo. Ma non ha inficiato il divertimento dei suoi due giovani attaccanti.
Infine, proprio nella sfida con Malta il portiere Buffon festeggerà le 126 presenze in azzurro. Per il numero uno della nostra nazionale sarà un risultato importante, visto che agguanterà Maldini al secondo posto della classifica delle presenze in azzurro. Davanti all’estremo difensore della Juventus resterà così solo Fabio Cannavaro, con 136 gettoni totali.
Classe 1978, Buffon ha esordito con la casacca azzurra a 19 anni, nella sfida Russia-Italia (1-1) del 29 ottobre 1997. Si è laureato Campione del mondo nel2006.



Malta, cavalieri a digiuno. Più di sette anni senza vincere

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Malta-Italia 1-2, anno 1992. E’ stato l’ultimo incontro degli Azzurri nell’Isola

L’11 ottobre 2006 la nazionale italiana, ancora ebbra del Mondiale tedesco e allenata da Roberto Donadoni, sbancava Tbilisi (3-1 alla Georgia) verso gli Europei ospitati da Austria e Svizzera nel 2008. Meno altisonante fu l’esito del Ta’ Qali Stadium di Attard, 8 chilometri da La Valletta, teatro di Malta-Ungheria: il 2-1 finale, sigillato dalla doppia marcatura di André Schembri, rappresenta l’ultimo successo maltese in una gara di qualificazioni europee. Per l’occasione l’allora tecnico ceco Dušan Fitzel venne apostrofato “La Valette” in onore dell’eroe nazionale Jean de la Valette, protagonista della stoica resistenza all’assedio ottomano nel 1565. Quanto basta per inquadrare la portata dell’evento.

Una fame lunga 2700 giorni - Il digiuno dei Cavalieri di St John si protrae da quasi sette anni e mezzo, intervallo che rende significativo l’attuale 147° posto nel ranking Fifa. Ma da meno di 365 giorni al timone dell’ex avamposto britannico figura Pietro Ghedin, già vice di Cesare Maldini, Dino Zoff e Giovanni Trapattoni nelle rispettive gestioni azzurre. Un italiano che sogna lo sgambetto all’ItalPrandelli. Eppure la selezione mediterranea occupa l’ultimo posto del girone B desolatamente a 0 punti. Nulla di eclatante appurata la natura pressoché amatoriale del campionato maltese, torneo che coinvolge la quasi totalità del collettivo di Ghedin: ben sette convocati militano nel Valletta FC, leader in patria.

André Schembri

I cavalieri maltesi - I tesserati esotici rispondono ai nomi dell’André Schembri di cui sopra e del portiere Andrew Hogg (militanti a Cipro), di Etienne Barbara (emigrato negli Stati Uniti) e del difensore Andrei Agius, in forza al Latina in Lega Pro. Tra gli altri spicca Michael Mifsud, capitano e recordman di reti (36) in nazionale, 31enne rientrato nel paese natio ma distintosi con profitto in Germania, Norvegia e Inghilterra. Proprio Mifsud, insieme a Dimech, Schembri, Cohen e Sciberras, rappresentano i soli superstiti dello storico trionfo contro i magiari.

Débâcle a Sofia, si attendono gli azzurri - All’andata a Modena i biancorossi incassarono un onorevole 2-0, frutto di un 4-2-3-1 ordinato e organizzato (come ha rimarcato lo stesso Prandelli alla vigilia). Non altrettanto dignitoso lo 0-6 patito venerdì a Sofia, passivo inflitto dalla Bulgaria seconda forza del raggruppamento. Martedì l’occasione per rialzare la testa all’interno del Ta’ Qali Stadium, impianto da 17.000 posti che (oltre al Valletta FC) ospita il Pietà Hotspurs FC. Un richiamo neppur troppo velato. Al resto ci penserà Pietro Ghedin, aspirante paladino maltese.