Newly-promoted Gudja United presented their squad ahead of the forthcoming BOV Premier League campaign during a press conference at Talbot & Bons Boutique Bed and Breakfast in Gudja on Friday.
The squad has been revamped with the signing of no less than fourteen new players including seven foreigners, namely Trinidad and Tobago international striker Rundell Winchester, Colombian central defender Juan Bolaños, Costa Rican international defender Allan Ricardo Miranda Albertazzi, Brazilians Alexandre Santana and Anderson Meyer and two players who have already played in Malta – Anderson de Barros – formerly of Balzan and Tarxien Rainbows and Gabriel Mensah – formerly of Pieta Hotspurs.
Twenty-five year old Rundell Winchester played for Central FC in Trinidad and Tobago, CS Vise in Belgium, Timbers 2 in the USA, Kemi City and AC Kajaani in Finland, Ma Pau Stars/North East Stars in Trinidad and Tobago and Platense in Honduras. Twenty eight year old Bolanos started his career at Academia FC in Colombia and later played for Godoy Cruz in Argentina, TJ Quanjian in China, FBC Melgar in Peru and Platense in Honduras.
On the other hand, thirty-two year old Allan Miranda played for AD Desamparados, Barrio Mexico, Perez Zeledon, AS Puma and Herediano in Costa Rica and after a spell with Antigua GFC in Guatemala, moved back to Costa Rica to play for LD Alajuelense.
Other new signings include three Under-21 internationals – Zach Cassar, Timothy Aquilina and Aidan Friggieri who join the club from Birkirkara, Sliema Wanderers and St. Andrews respectively, James Brincat of Mosta, Justin Grioli from Balzan, Hubert Vella from Zebbug Rangers and Dylan Grima of Floriana.
Players who already turned out for the club last season, like captain Jonathan Bondin, Jonathan Debono, Matthew Xerxen, Miguel Attard, Jurgen Farrugia and Llywelyn Cremona will be playing once again for Gudja United.
President Duncan Borg Myatt explained that the club, who is celebrating its 75th anniversary, is coming from two successive promotions. He said that the present squad, may be with a bit of fine tuning, will be ready for this Premier League campaign. He said the past two months were months of intensive work to strengthen the squad. Borg Myatt said that although the club does not have particular targets, Gudja are determined to show that they are not in the Premier League by chance.
The Gudja president added that that the technical staff, consisting of coach Josef Mansueto, assistant coach Thane Micallef and team manager Stuart Abdilla, has been strengthened with the arrival of physical trainer Matthew Psaila and goalkeepers’ coach Michael Church.
Borg Myatt added that the squad has a young average age with three players still under the age of 21. Although most of the new arrivals are on loan, he said that this was due to the fact that the club is in its first season in the top division. He said that however, most of the players who were on loan last season are still with the club as they wanted to stay and the club wanted to retain them.
The Gudja United president admitted that the squad could be strengthened further with the addition of a centre forward, considering that the coach has few options in that position so far. He added that for a club without a nursery, it was of utmost importance to give the coach as many options as possible.
Duncan Borg Myatt insisted that there are no particular objectives for this campaign but stressed that the size of a town or village is irrelevant and what counts is hard work. He said that like everyone in football, everyone wants to win but one has to be realistic since the strength of the different teams and clubs’ resources are not the same.
Coach Josef Mansueto, who led Qormi in the Premier League, was assistant coach at Birkirkara apart a short spell as coach with the Stripes and assistant coach at Hibernians, said this was his second season at the club after joining them last summer.
Mansueto said that joining Gudja United in Division 1 was a new challenge for him and is now looking forward for this Premier League campaign.
“Gudja are a small club but from day one, I noticed that despite its size, the club has a big heart. At first, we were not getting the desired results. However the club and the supporters were behind us in this moment of truth. I was impressed with the backing we received from the committee and the supporters. They believed in us and knew that we were on the right track although results were not coming our way. That was one of the reasons behind last year’s success.”
“We are aware of the task we have at hand but our objective is always to move a step further from the previous season,” concluded Mansueto.