Sliema Wanderers presented their new signings ahead of the forthcoming Premier League campaign during a press conference which was held at the Le Meridien St. Julian’s on Friday.
The Wanderers signed five new players namely Hungarian goalkeeper Viktor Szentpéteri, Nigerian goalkeeper Ini Etim Aktpan, Ivorian defender Sékou Tidiane Souare, Portuguese midfielder Valdo Goncalves Alhinho, Nigerian striker Obinna Polycarp Obiefule and Adam Spiteri. Spiteri joins the Blues on loan from Msida St. Joseph. Three players are back with the club following a loan spell with other teams – Beppe Muscat who spent last season with Vittoriosa Stars, Roderick Bajada who played for Marsaxlokk and Miguel Ciantar who spent the last part of the season with Msida.
Sliema Wanderers president Steve Abela said this was the third year of the club’s three year plan since former president Robert Arrigo stepped down. He said the club started the season on a positive note by winning the Euro Cup. Although this is not considered as one of the main honours, Abela said this was an important competition considering the fact that the teams taking part are those who eventually will challenge for the major honours.
The Sliema president said that now that the squad has been strengthened with foreigners who should be able to make the difference, he hopes the team will be more consistent which is a key factor in the battle for the championship. Two years ago, the Wanderers won the U*BET FA Trophy, last season they won the BOV Super Cup, in July now they claimed the Euro Cup. Therefore the only remaining trophy is the BOV Premier League.
Abela believes all the local players in the squad are valid players including the younger players, mentioning John Mintoff who is currently on a training camp with the national team in Italy. Abela revealed that there were requests for Ivan Woods, Ian Azzopardi and earlier for Clayton Failla but he believes the three of them will stay with the club unless the players themselves request a move elsewhere.
Goalkeeper Henry Bonello, who was on loan with Vittoriosa Stars, could possibly make his move a permanent one. In fact, the two clubs are currently discussing the possible transfer.
On the eve and after the decider for third place between Sliema and Qormi, two Sliema players hit the headlines – Simon Agius and Ian Ciantar. Ian Ciantar is no longer a Sliema player after the two parties reached an agreement over the termination of the contract.
On the other hand, as regards Simon Agius, the Sliema president said that the goalkeeper was given the opportunity to clear matters. He said that Agius was asked to appear in front of the club’s Disciplinary Board after defaming top club officials and failed to turn up for the game.
Abela explained that Agius was not correct in his version of facts as presented the protest in court since it was Agius himself who requested a meeting with the club officials and not vice-versa following a meeting with the rest of the squad. Abela said after meeting in a car, as they were about to leave the hotel, they asked whether he knew something and he denied.
Meanwhile Alex Muscat is expected to return for the Blues only in January as he will be leaving Malta this weekend to undergo surgery in Belgium.
On the other hand, as regards the Tigne Complex, Abela said that the signing of the agreement between Midi and the Lands Department is expected to be held in the coming days and therefore, the club has to wait for more time before being able to start using these facilities.
Steve Abela thanked Robert Arrigo as since then the latter continued to give the club his full backing as the main sponsor. Abela also thanked the two vice-presidents Nicky Dimech and Michael Bonello. Dimech said that although he was not able to be present as he would have wished over the past year after being elected as mayor of Sliema, he continued to give the club his backing.