General Category

Hamrun crowned Champions, milestones for Beerman, Grech, Thiaguinho

Published: Tue 07 May 2024, 13:12
HMR HIB 01.jpg

2023/24 BOV Premier League Match Day 26 Statistics

1 – In their match against Sliema Wanderers (0-3) on the last Match Day of the 2023/24 top flight campaign, Sirens introduced another player from their youth nursery. This is Matthew Grima, a 19-year-old goalkeeper from their minors team, who also had spells with the St Andrews and Swieqi United youth academies before joining Sirens in 2022. During their troubled season, the St Paul’s Bay managed to give debut to no less than seven youngsters from their own Nursery.

3 – Emerson Marcelina won his third Championship in Malta, all with Hamrun Spartans, and is now part of a selective group of foreign players who won the National Championship on at least three occasions. Three players, Drasko Braunovic (Valletta/Birkirkara), Denni Rocha dos Santos (Valletta) and the late Danilo Doncic (Valletta/Sliema Wanderers), are the only three foreign players to have won the domestic title four times. Emerson is one of six foreign nationals to have won the title on three occasions, along with Tommy Taylor (Valletta) Ian Leigh (Hamrun), Mark Miller (Rabat, Floriana and Sliema), Murphy Akanji (Sliema Wanderers) and Marcelo Dias (Hibernians and Floriana). Miller is the only foreign player in Malta to have won the local Championship with three different clubs.

5 – Floriana failed to beat Gzira United for the fifth consecutive time in a competitive game. The 3-1 victory of the Maroons on Friday night was the fourth victory of Gzira over Floriana since 3 April 2022 while there was one draw, all in Premier League matches. Floriana’s last win over Gzira was recorded on 20 February 2022.

5 – Ironically, Gudja United, Sirens and Santa Lucia all faced relegation after being promoted to the Premier Division for the first time in their club history in 2019. All three teams survived for five full seasons in the top flight, a great achievement by these modest clubs. With a fourth spot in their very first season, Sirens even managed to reach the UEFA Europa League qualifiers. Gudja’s best ranking was a sixth spot for season 2021/22, while the Lucians finished eighth during the 2020/21 campaign, the best ranking for the Saints during these five years.

6 – Valletta introduced no less than six young debutants in their last game with Gudja United last Thursday night (5-2). In fact, most of the squad were part of their minor team who won Section A of the Youth League last week Monday. Coaching tandem Juan Cruz Gill and Jesmond Zerafa opted to start with Liam Frendo between the sticks, aged 18, who joined Valletta from the Qormi youth nursery in 2021. Just after the hour, Kelvin Baldacchino and Claude Mercieca, captain of Valletta’s U17 side, entered the fray. While Mercieca, who turned 17 last month, spent most of his youth years with the Valletta academy, Baldacchino (aged 19) came over from the Birkirkara youth nursery in 2020. On 73 minutes, Aidan Portelli (19) and Zaiden Formosa (16) entered as substitutions while Deisler Agius did the same on 79 minutes. While Deisler is a pure Valletta youth nursery product, Aidan joined Valletta from the Mgarr United youth nursery in 2018 and Zaiden had a spell with Floriana before joining Valletta in 2020. The inclusion of these youngsters augers well for the future of the club.

7 – Steve Borg won his seventh national title in his career, five with Valletta and two with Hamrun Spartans. He is one of just twelve players who won the national Championship on seven occasions. This selective group have only five players above them. Kristian Laferla and Tony Nicholl won the Maltese Championship on nine occasions, while Gilbert Agius and old-timers Carmelo Cauchi and Salvu Grima managed to win the national title on eight occasions just before and after WWII. Remarkably, former Malta international wing-back Joseph Zerafa could have been added on the seven-wins mark, but failed to get an appearance with Hamrun Spartans this season despite being part of the squad for most of the 26 league games during the campaign.

8 – It was eight years, three months and ten days ago when Mosta managed to beat neighbours Naxxar Lions last in an MPL game on 24 January 2016. On that day, Dyson Falzon gave the Blues a hard-earned 1-0 victory over their rivals. Naxxar beat Mosta on three occasions since that day, while the 1st round encounter during this campaign ended in a goalless draw. This derby has been played on 32 occasions, for the first time during season 1949/50 in the 2nd Division. Mosta continue to have a slight upper-hand in historical mutual encounters with 14 victories against 12 for Naxxar. Six matches ended in a draw.

100 – Brazilian flank defender Thiago Espindola de Paula, also known as Thiaguinho, made his 100th Maltese Premier League appearance with his team Gzira United against Floriana last Friday night. Thiaguinho, who will be 31 years of age later this month, made a late substitute appearance in this match, enough to round up a century of appearances in Malta’s top flight. The left-back was introduced in Malta by Hamrun Spartans in 2017 (25 MPL apps), briefly returned to Brazil to play with Tigres but was lured back to Malta by Sirens, where he played between 2019 and 2021 (37 MPL apps). Gzira United snapped up his signature in 2021 and Friday night’s match was his 38th for the Maroons in the Premier League. In Brazil, Thaguinho has been part of the Atletico Mineiro youth set-up before joining Tupi in the Minas Gerais state football league.

100 – On Thursday night, also Myles Beerman played his 100th game in the Maltese Premier League. The Sliema Wanderers flank defender appeared in all 26 MPL games this season, playing in total 72 of these 100 in the Blues’ colours. Beerman played the other 28 matches for Hibernians (13), Birkirkara (8) and Gzira United (7). The remarkable football journey of the 25-year-old Malta international started with the Floriana youth nursery in 2009 before joining the Manchester City football academy in 2014. After two seasons, Beerman joined Glasgow Rangers, becoming the very first Maltese to play in the Old Firm derby with Celtic in May 2017. After a loan period with Queen of the South, also in Scotland, Beerman returned to Malta in 2018 and is closing in slowly on 200 domestic and international career appearances.

175 – Hibernians met Hamrun Spartans for the 175th time in an official competitive encounter at senior level. Although the Paolites failed to beat Hamrun in the last four games, Hibernians still have the upper-hand in mutual encounters with 88 victories against 47 for Hamrun. The other 40 encounters ended in a draw, with Hibernians scoring 283 and the Spartans 202. The match is ranked 13 in the list of most played competitive senior games in Malta.

200 – On Friday night, Jake Grech played his 200th Premier League with Floriana against Gzira United. The 26-year-old joined the Greens from Balzan half-way the season, with who he played 12 MPL games while this was his 10th MPL appearance for Floriana. Over-all, Grech played most of these 200 for Hibernians, 107 appearances including two Deciders, but also 40 for Birkirkara and 31 for his hometown team Hamrun Spartans, where he made his MPL debut in 2016. Through the years, Grech scored no less than 78 goals in the top flight. Grech made in total 349 official senior appearances in all competitions, including 23 caps for Malta and 21 matches in the European Cup competitions, scoring 119 goals all together.