Malta Football Association
Old Firm rivals Floriana, Sliema pursue FA Trophy glory
May 19, 2017
Posted in:
BOV Premier League
Cups & Competitions

A final between Floriana FC and Sliema Wanderers has elevated the importance of the FA Trophy showdown to a new level as the two Old Firm rivals will be going all out to secure KO glory at the National Stadium on Saturday afternoon (kick-off 5pm).

Just over 24 hours before the eagerly-awaited clash which will bring the curtains down on the 2016/17 domestic football season, the coaches and players of the two finalists spoke of their determination to win the FA Trophy.


Sliema Wanderers will be aiming to defend the honour they won for a record-extending 21st time last season while Floriana will be bidding to secure their first major honour since 2011 when they had the better of rivals Valletta 1-0 to insicribe their name on the cup for the 19th time in their history.


A coveted berth in the Europa League is also at stake and Giovanni Tedesco, the Floriana coach, left no-one in doubt as to how much this final means to him and his team when he told the pre-match news conference that he will quit his post if the Greens fail to win.


“If we don’t win this cup, I will go,” Tedesco told reporters.


The Italian is upbeat about his team’s chances of emerging triumphant and shrugged off rumours linking him with a job abroad by saying that he was only focusing on the FA Trophy final.


For his part, John Buttigieg, the Sliema Wanderers coach, rejected the notion that his team’s perfect record against Floriana in the league makes them favourites for the final.


“Those matches were from the championship and they are in the past,” Buttigieg said.


“This is a different story, this is a final, a one-off game.”


There was an air of mutual respect during the news conference with both coaches lauding the qualities of the respective finalists while expressing hope that the game will offer a spectacle to the fans at the National Stadium.


Alex Muscat, the captain of Sliema Wanderers, spoke of his team’s motivation to retain the FA Trophy as success this season would also make up for their disappointment of missing out on the Europa League last year after the Blues withdrew their UEFA licence application.


Floriana FC captain Nicolas Chiesa, 36, said that he has been involved in many decisive games in his career but his heart is beating faster ahead of the FA Trophy final because he wants to win it so badly.


Justin Haber, the veteran goalkeeper who rejoined Floriana FC at the start of the season, said he was determined and eager to make up for a disappointing season by winning his first major honour for his hometown club.


Sliema Wanderers playmaker Denni Rocha Dos Santos, who has won the FA Trophy three times in his career, said he was relishing the prospect of playing in this season’s final and help his team lift the new trophy which will be presented for the first time to the winners of this season’s cup competition.


Floriana finished fifth in the championship on 54 points, two ahead of the sixth-placed Sliema Wanderers.


Asked whether they were disappointed about their teams’ overall performances in the league, both Tedesco and Buttigieg argued that the BOV Premier League was more balanced and competitive this season compared to recent years.


The last time these two glorious clubs met in a final of the FA Trophy, in 1993, Floriana thrashed Sliema 5-0 to complete a league and cup double.

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