No less than thirteen new players, including four new foreigners, feature in the Tarxien Rainbows squad for the BOV Premier League campaign season 2014/15 which kicks-off next weekend with the first programme of matches. The new players were presented during a press-conference at the Grand Hotel Excelsior on Saturday.
The club’s Players’ Agent Kevin Bonavia said that this intensive transfer campaign saw its start back in April when Tarxien had just secured their Premier League status. Several discussion were held between the president and the rest of the committee and the coach about what needed to be changed at the club. The first decision was to give coach Clive Mizzi a full-time role and therefore he is now available to hold morning training sessions for the six foreign players and local players who are available to train during the morning. Bonavia said that the club believes that in the long-term, this decision will bear fruit.
Complementing Mizzi in the technical staff will be once again assistant coach Steven Vella and goalkeepers’ coach Michael Church. Bonavia said that under Michael Church’s supervision, over the past years, Tarxien goalkeepers excelled, winning various awards and Nicky Vella secured a transfer to champions Valletta. This was a proof that Church was doing an excellent job.
Aaron Saliba was engaged as physiotherapist, Derek Stafrace will be the team’s masseur while Dr Jan Chircop will be the club doctor.
Kevin Bonavia went on to explain that after recent disappointments, the squad had to go through a radical change and following the request of the coach , the club acted swiftly to strengthen the squad. In fact, by mid-July, the club had concluded all the transfers apart from those of Triston Caruana and Clebinho.
Despite the signing of no less than thirteen new players, the club is keeping its feet on the ground and set realistic targets as in the club’s opinion, this will be a difficult season as even the two newly-promoted teams are strong teams. The club’s first objective is to secure their Premier League status as early as possible.
The new players are nine locals and four Brazilians. The club did not opt to bring a number of foreign players on trial but worked hard to identify the players with the required characteristics. Contacts with these foreigners were established towards the end of last season and they are now geared for the start of the Premier League campaign.
The Brazilian players are striker Wesley Henrique Lima Silva e Silva ‘Pipico’, lateral strikers Álvaro André Rodrigues da Silva ‘Alvaro Silva/Branquinho’ and Cleber Barbosa Viana ‘Clebinho’ and central defender Alessandro Lopes Pereira. They join Spanish midfielder Carlos Menendez Hevia and Brazilian striker Jorge Santos Silva who were retained.
From the local market, Tarxien signed midfielder Matthew Tabone on loan from Hibernians, defenders Alex Cini and Kane Farrugia on loan from Mosta, goalkeeper Jonathan Debono from Mqabba, goalkeeper Sean Cini from Vittoriosa, central defender Owen Bugeja from Qormi, defender Manuel Xerri on loan from Xewkija Tigers, midfielder Firas Aboulezz from Balzan and midfielder Triston Caruana from Hibernians.
Clive Mizzi thanked the president and the sponsors for the enthusiasm shown despite difficult moments throughout last season however the president, the committee and the players have now been working hard and showing great enthusiasm.
Mizzi said the club looked out for players who had failed to find space in their clubs. They aimed at signing players who were on the sidelines at other clubs and therefore had the enthusiasm to prove themselves. He said that only five players were retained from last season’s squad – Steve Sadowski, Ryan Sammut and Manuel Caruana along with Hevia and Jorge Santos. These will be joined by four players from the youth squad.
Mizzi once again thanked the president and the sponsors as otherwise the club could not take certain commitments.
The Tarxien coach said the new Premier League format will be a new experience and a new challenge for all clubs and Tarxien’s objective will be to be well-prepared for each and every game Tarxien will be aiming at taking whatever was possible from each game. He said that although it was important to be ambitious, one had also be realistic as other teams have been strengthened as well.
Clive Mizzi revealed that as part of his role as a full-timer at the club, he will be working towards bringing the team closer to the community and the community closer to the team.