Despite the signing of three foreign players, Birkirkara are hoping to strengthen the squad further with the signing of another two foreign players apart from the return of Jhonnattann Benites da Conceicao who returned to Malta earlier this week. Birkirkara president Joe Zammit, vice-president Dr Adrian Delia and coach Paul Zammit were addressing the media during a press conference which was held at the Eurosport outlet in Birkirkara.
Joe Zammit said that the club worked hard to strengthen the squad and after securing the services of Sengalese striker Demba Toure, Nigerian forward Frank Temile and Brazilian defender Matheus Bissi da Silva, Jhonnattann Benites da Silva who had signed a two-year contract last summer returned with the club from Brazil. A Nigerian player will be joining the club in a week’s time and another foreign defender should also join the club in the coming weeks.
From the local market, Birkirkara signed Under-21 international defender Daniel Zerafa while Malta international striker Terence Vella is back with the club after spending the last eighteen months on loan with Mosta and Hamrun Spartans.
Joe Zammit said that once again the championship in the main objective for the Stripes as they now seek a second consecutive title. He said that after sixteen years of participation in European competitions, the club now aims at moving a step forward. In fact to prepare better for the UEFA Champions League or the UEFA Europa League commitments, the club will be using these coming months to evaluate the players in the squad and make the necessary changes in view of the club’s European commitments as they target a place in the third qualifying round.
Vice-President Dr Adrian Delia thanked the club’s sponsors, namely McDonalds, Eurosport, U-Boat Malta Ltd, MSV Life and Powerade and also thanked Betclic and Laferla who were among the club’s main sponsors in the past seasons. He said small clubs like Birkirkara had only three sources of income – members and supporters, participation in European competitions and sponsors since TV rights and gate money are negligible. Dr Delia revealed that the club has a technical strategic partnership with a foreign organisation thanks to which Birkirkara could benefit from the signing of players, players’ exchanges and training camps.
Birkirkara coach Paul Zammit said this was the continuation of a project which started four years ago. He said that to strengthen its set-up, a club laid the basis of a strong squad and from one season to another, strengthened the squad. He said that despite the fact that there were several foreigners in squad, young players from the club’s nursery and others signed from other clubs still found space in the Birkirkara squad. In fact, last season nine players from the club’s Under-19 team played for the senior side.
Zammit said that in the coming weeks and months the technical staff together with the administration will gauge the squad’s potential in order to be as prepared as possible for the European competitions. This was being done in order to avoid situations where at the end of the domestic season, the club lost several players, therefore being unable to offer a good challenge.
The Birkirkara coach said that one of his personal objectives has always been to improve the club’s set-up – having the basing structure for the team to be well-prepared. He thanked the administration for backing his ideas.
Paul Zammit admitted that after winning the title, there will definitely be more pressure on his players but the challenge for Birkirkara will be to be prepared to overcome such pressure, saying that the fact that clubs are now allowed to field five foreign players enabled them to bridge the gap.