Second place for Gozo selection in international tournament

The selection from the Gozo Football Association placed second in the second edition of the Trofeo del Mediterraneo which was held at Stadio Comunale di Mercogliano in the province of Avellino on 23rd September 2010. This was the first time that the Gozitan selection participated in this tournament.

The Trofeo del Mediterraneo was contested in a triangular tournament together with the organisers Regno Delle Due Sicilie and S.C. Castellana.

The Gozitans had an excellent start, defeating S.C. Castellana – a team which takes part in the Campania regional championship – 4-0 in a match controlled by referee Joe Bajada.

Gozo had an aggressive start to the match and were dangerous during the early stages through an effort by John Camilleri that ended just wide. In another occasion a free kick by Milos Stojanovic ended just high. In the 8th minute John Camilleri had a good header that just missed the target. However, Gozo opened the score on 12 minutes through Manwel Cordina who concluded a good move by John Camilleri. Castellana had an immediate reaction and went close to level the score but a shot by Mario Tirri hit the woodwork and defender Mario Azzopardi cleared the danger.

Gozo doubled the score on 28 minutes through Kenneth Mercieca following a pass by John Camilleri. Gozo’s goalie Mark Grima was called to make two difficult save minutes later to deny Castellana from re-opening the issues following attempts by Mario Tirri and Carmine Ziccardi. The score became 3-0 on 36 minutes when substitute Rodney Buttigieg was floored in the area and from the resultant penalty Anthony Portelli placed behind goalie Daniele Siccardi. Seconds from the end of this first encounter Gozo sealed the issue with a fourth goal scored by Rodney Buttigieg following a cross by Kenneth Mercieca.

S.C. Castellana Daniele Siccardi, Ciro Di Grezia, Vincenzo Giacco, Giuseppe Sasso, Antonio Sarti (Alessio Festa), Carmine Ziccardi, Emanuele Galluccio (Andrea Cecchetti), Carmine Corrado, Ciro Brosca, Mario Tirri (Michele Vitiello), Giuseppe Broggi.
Gozo XI Mark Grima, Manwel Xerri, Josmar Vella, Alex Tramboo, Mario Azzopardi, Mark Muscat (Rodney Buttigieg), Milos Stojanovic, Anthony Portelli, Manwel Cordina, John Camilleri (Michael Bezzina), Kenneth Mercieca.
Referee: Joe Bajada

In the second match Regno Delle Due Sicilie obtained a handsome 6-0 win over S.C. Castellana. Cristian Cioce scored a brace in the 10th and 15th minutes, while Marco Tofano made it 3-0 on 27 minutes. In the last part of the encounter Regno Delle Due Sicilie scored three more goals through a brace by Fabio Sperandeo in the 31st and 35th minutes and a goal by Vincenzo Varriale in the 40th minute.

The last match of the triangular tournament between Gozo and Regno Delle Due Sicilie was decisive to determine the winner of the competition. Regno Delle Due Sicilie fielded a strong squad with a number of professional players with experience from the Serie B of the Italian leagues with clubs of Lecce, Avellino, Crotone and other teams such as Marcianise, Juve Stabie, Pogtenza, Matera, Paganese, Scafatese, Vibonese, Angri and Anania. These players are currently out of contract and keep training together until they find new opportunities with other clubs.

The Southern Italians were undoubtedly superior to the Gozitans although Gozo’s defensive deployment contained well the pressure. Fabio Sperando scored a brace to give a comfortable two-goal lead to his side. In the 15th minute Sperando placed into an open goal by taking he rebound from the goalkeeper and on 25 minutes the same player concluded from close distance a cross from the flank by Antonio Cozzolino. Gozo reduced the deficit one minute later through an excellent goal by John Camilleri following a cross by Milos Stojanovic. Gozo kept insisting during the final stages and goalie Gragniello (ex-Lecce) denied Gozo’s Milos Stojanovic and John Camilleri from scoring the equaliser with fine saves. In the 40th minute Gozo were reduced to ten players when John Camilleri was sent off for dissent although the remarks to the referee were made by another player. Despite the disappointment of the result, the Gozitan overall had a positive experience and also produced encouraging performances in matches away from the home soil.

Regno Delle Due Sicilie Raffaele Gragnaniello, Antonio Cozzolino, Alberto Savino (Giovanni Langella), Genny del Buono, Massimo Russo, Raffaele Russo, Roberto Palumbo (Alfonso Iennaro), Raffaele De Martino, Marco Tofano, Fabio Sperandeo, Vincenzo Varriale (Benvenuto Palmieri).
Gozo XI Mark Grima, Manwel Xerri, Josmar Vella, Alex Tramboo, Mario Azzopardi, Mark Muscat, Milos Stojanovic, Anthony Portelli (Rodney Buttigieg), Manwel Cordina (Michael Bezzina), John Camilleri, Kenneth Mercieca.
Referee: Fabio Festa

Apart from the participation in the Trofeo del Mediterraneo, the Gozitans had the opportunity to visit the CONI headquarters in Avellino and Stadio Partenio which includes the headquarters of A.S. Avellino.