Gzira United will be starting to train on a semi-professional basis in the coming days as part of a plan to have the squad all made up of full-timers and training on a professional basis. This was revealed by club president Sharlon Pace and coach Darren Abdilla during a press conference at the club premises in Gzira.
Sharlon Pace said that after the end of last season, the club tried to identify what the team lacked and thanks to the sponsors, the squad has been strengthened.
The Gzira president revealed that the club will be introducing a semi-professional system thanks to which players will be training during mornings as a number of players will be granted leave by their employers in order to be able to do this. This will be the first step towards having the squad training on a professional basis in the near future.
Sharlon Pace announced that the club has plans of building its own stadium. He said the club have already the plans in hand and now needs to identify a suitable piece of land. Pace said that the club had discussions with the University of Malta with regards to the University Ground which was identified as a possibility where the club could build its stadium with a capacity of 5,000 spectators, an underground card park, a hotel and restaurant and adjacent five-a-side pitches which could also be used to host training sessions when the stadium is in use. The Gzira president said that no agreement has been reached yet and if these plans do not materialise, the club would consider other pieces of land outside Gzira.
Coach Darren Abdilla said that the club’s main objective was to build on what have been achieved so far. He said that it was of utmost importance to keep their feet on the ground but at the same time aim high.
Abdilla said that luckily, this year there was no need for major changes and in fact, the club retained all local players, apart from Karl Pulo who joined St. Andrews on loan. The club signed three experienced foreigners – Thomas Veronese, Rodolfo Soares dos Santos and Jorge da Silva Pereira. Therefore, along with Destin Prince-Loic Mambouana, Edison David Bilbao Zarate and Amadou Samb, the club has now six foreigners. He said the club is hoping to register a seventh foreigner by the end of the transfer market, which would probably be a defender.
Gzira returned to European football after an absence of forty-five years. The Gzira coach said they had managed to register two convincing wins over Sant Julia of Andorra and the games against Radnicki, despite the defeats, were positive experiences.
Darren Abdilla added that as part of the club’s three-year plan to move towards professionalism, the first step will be to have all the squad available for two morning training sessions every week. The club has also invested in new equipment in order to have the right set up to help the club grow.
This season, Abdilla will be assisted by Andrew Cohen, goalkeepers coach Domenic Ellul and physical trainer Johann Zammit. Marlon Galea was confirmed as team manager.
Meanwhile Jeep were unveiled as the club’s main sponsor. Ryan Buttigieg – Chief Operating Officer at Motors Inc, said the company was delighted at supporting the club and assisting it in its growth. He said this partnership arrived at the right time where Jeep was trying to establish itself more in the European market and Gzira were aiming at doing well in European football.