General Category

MFA 2023/24 Amateur season in numbers

Published: Sat 15 Jun 2024, 10:31
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Izibet National Amateur League 2023/24 Statistics

1 – The Friendly match between El Salvador and Bonaire on 21 March (1-1) must have passed by unnoticed to many, it was a special one for Xghajra Tornados. The club never had an international player in their ranks but the appearance of striker Ginel Ronde for Bonaire changed that. The 21-year-old striker, born in The Netherlands of Bonairian descent, joined the Tornados halfway the season, made his debut for the club on the 3rd of February against Mtarfa and played for the seasiders up to the end of the season.

6 – Mgarr United striker Christian Saint Ebisindor scored six goals against Ghaxaq on 20 October, followed by a second 10-0 victory over Ta’ Xbiex a week later with another five goals from the classy Nigerian, a combination never done in Malta at any level. In two full seasons with the Greens, Saint Ebisindor has scored 61 goals in 53 official games, all competitions, a remarkable average of more than one goal per game, earning him a transfer to Gzira United in the Premier League next season.

21 – Another remarkable scoring feat was done by Brandon Bray. His 21 league goals for Qrendi included two pokers and two hattricks, an incredible record for the 22-year-old former Attard and Floriana striker. Bray scored four goals against Birzebbuga on 10 December (4-0) and Pembroke on 9 January (5-1) and added three goals against Siggiewi on the 4th of February (4-1) and Pembroke on 6 April (5-4), rounding off undoubtedly his best season so far in his career.  

33 – Kurt Borg of Mtarfa knocked in 33 league goals this season, setting up a new record in the third tier of Maltese football, beating the previous record of Giovanni Galea who scored 29 for Qrendi during season 2016/17. Galea still holds the record in the 3rd Division (4th tier) with an incredible 40 goals in season 2013/14 for Sirens. While it was only his first season with Mtarfa, Kurt Borg immediately established a club record with these 33 goals, rising to the top of the all-time club goals list, knocking off Paul Azzopardi and Omar Smeir who so far were leading this table with 29 goals each.

38 – Mdina Knights were the only Amateur League team who failed to win a match during season 2023/24. It means that, with the 2-0 victory over Siggiewi played on 2 October 2022 being their last positive result, the Knights have not won in 38 consecutive competitive games, which also includes two Amateur Cup games. Coaching tandem Roland Sollars and Marco Buttigieg had to start from scratch in 2022, after nearly all their players left the club that summer, trying to build a new team, a process which undoubtedly takes time.

50 – Gharghur concluded their 50th season in the MFA competitions. Being founded in 1971 as St Albert FC, the club entered the MFA in 1974 and, apart from four seasons in the 1st Division, spent most of their years in the lower two tiers, 21 at third level and 25 at fourth level. There was another milestone for the club this season as the match on 20 January against Marsaskala (1-0) was Gharghur’s 800th game in MFA league football.

50 – It was the 50th season in the third tier of Maltese football for Siggiewi. No club in Malta has spent more seasons at this level, close second in this particular ranking are the Lightnings from Santa Venera with 48 third tier campaigns. It was Siggiewi’s 76th season in the MFA, who also spent five seasons at 2nd level. Next season, will be the club’s 22nd in the fourth tier. The club was founded in 1945.  

89 – A total of 89 Maltese players made their debut in the Amateur League and Cup during the season. Dingli Swallows introduced no less than 11 young players, most from their nursery. Throughout the season, Isaac Scerri, Alessandro Grech, Logan Guntrip, Michele Vella, Luke Vassallo, Dylan Gatt, Neil Vella, Neil Cassar, Jerome Harkins, Noah Attard, Julian Baldacchino all made their senior debut in the team of coaches Ryan Zammit and Nicolai Caruana. The Swallows are topping this ranking before Marsaskala and Ta’ Xbiex, who both gave debut to eight Maltese players. Mqabba is following with seven before Ghaxaq, San Gwann and Mdina Knights with five senior debutants each. Birzebbuga St Peter’s, Gharghur, Kalkara United and Kirkop United followed with four, before Mellieha, Mgarr United and Rabat Ajax with three. Pembroke Athleta, Qormi, Qrendi, St George’s and Santa Venera Lightnings had two players each, Mtarfa one.

100 – Marsaskala defender Eman Camilleri reached the 100 appearances for his club and eventually rose to the top of the club’s all-time appearances list with 105 club games. The former Zejtun player overtook Matthew Gauci, who played for Marsaskala between 2010 and 2019, who had played 101 games for the seasiders. They are the only two players, so far, who reached the 100 figure for the club. Camilleri joined Marsaskala in 2019 and has rounded off his fifth consecutive season in orange. Apart from Camilleri, also Kurt Muscat (Rabat Ajax), Wayne Chetcuti (Mellieha) and Ta’ Xbiex players Jean-Paul Abdilla and Mark Bonello-Ghio played their 100th club appearance during the season.

100 – The 1-0 victory of Birzebbuga St Peter’s over Qrendi on 9 March was the 100th game of Blues coach Edward Azzopardi in the Amateur League and 2nd Division combined. It was the fourth consecutive season in the NAL for Azzopardi, who joined St Peter’s last summer after three full campaigns with Kalkara United. The 46-year-old also had a spell at this level with Zejtun Corinthians in 2014/15. He also coached his former club Rabat Ajax for two seasons in the 1st Division between 2016 and 2018.

100 – Saturday Nanapere (Mtarfa) and Mgarr striker Nicholas Schembri both scored their 100th official senior career goal during the season. Nanapere scored from the spot in the 1st round Amateur Cup against St George's on 5 November, while Schembri’s opener against Qormi on 10 March was meant also his 100th career goal. They both added their name to a selective group of players with a century of goals in Maltese football.

100 – During the season, Andrea Hammett (Kalkara United), Adrian Caruana (St George’s), Tyrone Gauci (Mellieha), Ryan Sciberras (Pembroke Athleta), Aidan Agius-Gilford and Deemer Cutajar (both Vittoriosa Stars), Evair Grech (Qormi), Dylan Micallef (Birzebbuga St Peter’s), Ian Darmanin, Dylan Attard (both Siggiewi), Gordon Saliba (Mgarr United) and Mqabba players Neil Scerri and Dylan Zarb all made their 100th appearance in the National Amateur League and 2nd Division combined, a total of 13 players.

114 – For the first time in Maltese football history at senior level, a club conceded more than 100 league goals. Ta’ Xbiex SC finished last in Group B of the NAL with 114 goals against. In reality, it was even worse as Vittoriosa beat Ta’ Xbiex 5-1 on the opening day but that result, due to the usage of an ineligible player on the Birgu side, was reversed into a 3-0 victory for Ta’ Xbiex. The club conceded double figures in four league matches (10-0, 11-0 and twice 10-1), which is also a negative record during a single league campaign. The previous league goals against record was held by Ta’ Xbiex FC, who conceded 98 goals in their last active season (2006/07) in the 3rd Division.

200 – Giovanni Galea’s winner against Mellieha with his new club Kirkop United in the Preliminary Round of the Amateur Cup on 30 September marked the 200th career goal for the lanky striker. The 33-year-old entered an exclusive list of just 21 Maltese players with over 200 senior goals all competitions. Galea has knocked in the goals at all four levels on the island and apart from Kirkop also played for Sirens, Floriana, Mellieha, Fgura United, Qrendi, Msida St Joseph and Zurrieq.

300 – The match on 17 December last year between Marsaskala and St George’s (2-0) was the 300th league match all-together for Marsaskala in the MFA leagues. The young club was founded in 2010 and has been playing their 14 seasons so far mainly in the lower divisions, with exception of the 2022/23 season, when the seasiders spent a year in the Challenge League, going down into the Amateur League after just one season.

400 – Kalkara United’s game with Mtarfa on 12 January (2-5) was the club’s 400th league match since their (re-) foundation in 2004. While traces of football in Kalkara go back to 1913, previous editions took part in the MFA leagues between 1946 and 1949, while a third club, also under the name of Kalkara United, were active in 26 consecutive MFA league campaigns between 1971 and 1997. This season was Kalkara’s seventh consecutive in the third tier of Maltese football, after spending 13 years at fourth level eversince 2004. The club relegated into the NAL II next season after a dismal season.

400 – Adrian Borg played his 400th official career match with Mgarr United on the last Match Day of the league, in a 5-3 victory over Marsaskala. It was Borg’s first adventure in the Amateur League after 17 seasons in the top two divisions. The defender made 245 appearances in the Premier League, and 90 in the 1st Division, for Mosta, Hamrun Spartans, Pembroke Athleta, St Andrews and Sirens.

600 – The match against Mqabba on Match Day 20 in Group A, played on 17 March, was Xghajra’s 600th league game in the history of the club. The Tornados were founded in 1985 but entered the MFA only in 1994 after a period in the Amateur associations, establishing a record as within three seasons they reached the Premier League. From 2003, the club plays in the lower two tiers of the Maltese football system. The 2023/24 Amateur League campaign was their 30th season in the MFA.

1000 – The first derby of the season between Mqabba and Qrendi on 24 November (0-3) was Mqabba’s 1000th league match eversince they entered the MFA in 1962. The club, founded as Mqabba Hajduks in 1957, have spent most of their 61 seasons in the second tier of Maltese football, 26 seasons, but also five in the Premier League, 26 in the third tier and two at fourth level.

1300 – On 27 October, Vittoriosa Stars played their 1300th league match since their foundation in 1906, ironically against neighbours and rivals St George’s (0-1). The club from Birgu was founded as Melita-Vittoriosa and became Vittoriosa Stars in 1934 after two more name changes between 1914 and 1925 as Vittoriosa Rovers and Vittoriosa United. This was their 96th season in the MFA, spending most of these, 46 to be exact in the second tier of Maltese football. The Cottonera side also experienced 12 full campaigns in the top league, but also 30 in the third tier and eight in the fourth level of the island’s league set-up through the years.

1400 – The 6-2 victory over Ta’ Xbiex on 10 March was the 1400th league match of St George’s in the history of Maltese football. The Pioneers, founded in 1894, took part in the MFA leagues eversince 1911 and have just rounded up their 94th league campaign. The Blues spent 43 seasons in the top league, 36 at second level and 12 in the third tier of the Maltese football pyramid. The Cottonera side lost their Relegation Play-Off to Pembroke Athleta after the penalty lottery and this upcoming season will be their fourth in the lowest tier, after having spent already three seasons there in the 2000-2003 period.

Images copyright by Walter Sargent