Amateur League 2021/22 Preview
Group A should be the most balanced one, with no clear favourite. Attard, Msida St Joseph, Siggiewi, Birzebbuga St Peter’s and perhaps Xghajra Tornados could be the five teams challenging for the first spot in the Group, with Kalkara and Gharghur as outsiders.
Attard kept faith with the core of the squad of last season, which means they have a strong side. With the coaching tandem of Daniel Agius and experienced Carmelo Caruana, and players like Nigel Spiteri, Bledi Alla and NAL 2020/21 Top Scorer Nicholas Schembri, they would certainly be disappointed not to challenge for promotion. Msida saw some important players leaving, like Ciro Quaranta, Timmy Thomas, Lian Xuereb and captain Fabio Muscat, but invested in two promising youngsters, ex-Fgura midfielder Matthias Vella and Benjamin Battistino, lastly on the books of Sliema Wanderers. Veteran Justin Zammit came from Mellieha, while they also signed an exciting young Nigerian striker and James Borg, ex-Mtarfa goalkeeper.
Siggiewi lost veterans Eman Ciappara and Kurt Magro, both retired, and also Emmanuel Mbong who joined Gzira United. They will be certainly a transformed team but should have left enough quality to challenge any opponent in this group. Birzebbuga lost playmaker Keith Muscat to Zurrieq, but signed veterans Alan Tabone and Josef Dalli, two important key players, and also have a new Nigerian forward which should place them as well amongst possible promotion contenders. Xghajra signed ex-Zurrieq striker Erik Pietribiasi, the Italian will partner with Reuter Degiorgio up front. For sure, we cannot chalk out the Tornados for a possible promotion slot this season.
Gharghur signed a host of experienced Amateur League players and look to have a very balanced side. Above all, they managed to keep their fast Nigerian striker Ikechukwu Igwemeke and are therefore outsiders for promotion. The same can be said for Kalkara United, who however lost captain Isaac Galea to Vittoriosa Stars, which could be a big miss for the team. Experienced forward Jean-Claude Cesare came from St Patrick to support veteran goalgetter Ronnie Celeste up front. The first indications show that Ghaxaq, Dingli Swallows, who lost a lot of established players, and Ta’ Xbiex could have another quiet season.
In Group B things are clearer. Zabbar St Patrick signed a host of ex-Premier Division players and are the clear favourites. Lanky Trinidad & Tobago striker Rundell Winchester joined from Hibernians, veteran Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza from Marsaxlokk, while other signings include Terence Agius (ex-Sirens), Francesco Gusman from Marsa, Miguel Ciantar (ex-Tarxien) and Michael Camilleri from Santa Lucia. With Bulgarian mentor Bobby Gyorev, Zabbar have an experienced coach and will be undoubtedly the team to beat in this section this season.
Zurrieq could give Zabbar a good run for their money. Up front, they signed veteran strikers Giovanni Galea and Timmy Thomas, who will be expected, almost traditionally, to be responsible for a large number of their goals this season. They lost veteran playmaker Claudio Calleja, retired, who was definitely the motor of the team for the past three seasons. However, Zurrieq compensated this with the signing of Keith Muscat of Birzebbuga St Peter’s. Marsaskala signed Adrian Carabott from Zejtun, an excellent signing for the club. They qualified last season for the Promotion Play-Offs and could do the same again this season as the majority of the players of last season remained at the club. Kirkop United will be also once more amongst the contenders for a Play-Offs spot. Last season, they were very close to a historic promotion to the Challenge League, but their gallant run in the Play-Offs was halted by Rabat Ajax. The team of coach Jeffrey Mifsud lost English striker Danny Claridge to Senglea Athletic, but kept faith with most of the other players, an excellent squad of talented and hardworking athletes. Luca Casha came from Mtarfa, while Gary Caruana joined the team from Birzebbuga.
Outsiders in this group are definitely Mdina Knights and Mtarfa. The Knights signed a number of Mgarr players, like striker Lazar Doric, Russell Marmara, Mark Abela and Nicholas Abela, while Daniel Cilia, Gianluca Theuma, Dylan Mercieca and Karl Cilia joined the team from Dingli Swallows. Like Mdina, Mtarfa also signed a good number of new players, with the most important one being the experienced centre-back Manuel Caruana, who we know mainly from his long period with Tarxien Rainbows. Other important signings are Neil Caruana (ex-Rabat), goalkeeper Clive Caruana and defender Jean-Claude Borg (both ex-Kalkara) and nippy winger Jean Paul Formosa from Zurrieq. It is generally expected that Qormi, Mellieha and Santa Venera will give their own youth prospects a chance, three teams who could however upset a few of the established teams this season.