As the 2021-22 season reaches its finale, preparations for an eagerly-awaited annual appointment in the local football calendar are in full swing. The best football players in the domestic men’s and women’s competitions together with the coaches and referees will once again take centre stage at the 2022 MFPA Awards, being held this Monday at the Aviation Museum in Ta’ Qali.
The build-up for the MFPA showpiece event kicked off a few months ago when a panel of coaches submitted their list of award nominees in the different categories. A new category, that for Best Amateur League player, has been introduced this year with the nominees vying for a total of 35 awards, including the 11 players making up the MFPA Best XI for both men and women, and the Merit Award for outstanding contribution to Maltese football.
Following the announcement of the nominees, the MFPA passed the baton to its members, the football players, to vote for their preferred candidates in the different categories. In addition to the eligibility criteria related to the minimum playing time for the nominees, players cannot vote for a candidate who plays for the same team.
There are a total of 33 nominees in the MFPA Best XI categories for both men and women with the awards being assigned as follows: one goalkeeper, two centre-backs, one left-back, one right-back, three midfielders and three forwards in a 4-3-3 formation.
Newly-crowned champions Hibernians and runners-up Floriana have the highest number of contenders with eight and seven nominees respectively. In the MFPA Women’s Best XI, Birkirkara, who have already secured their 10th league crown, and title rivals Mġarr United are represented by eight payers each. The final three nominees for the MFPA Best Player honour (men and women) will be unveiled during the MFPA Awards night followed by the announcement of the winner.
There will surely be a new winner in the MFPA Men’s Best Player category as last year’s winner, Ħamrun Spartans forward Jorge Ailton Soares ‘Dodo’ is not among the final nominees for the 2022 prize. In the women’s category, Swieqi United’s Shona Zammit, the 2021 winner, is among the candidates for one of three midfield positions in the MFPA Women’s Best XI category.
There are seven candidates for the MFPA Best Men’s Young Player award, won by Siena midfielder Matthew Guillaumier last year, while the winner of the MFPA Women’s Young Player accolade will be chosen from the contenders (under the age of 23) in the Best XI category. The nominees in the Challenge League categories are in contention to win the MFPA Best Challenge League Player award.
LIST OF NOMINEES
MFPA Best Amateur League Player
Ivan Bojovic (Żurrieq); Nicholas Schembri (Attard); Timothy Thomas (Żurrieq).
MFPA Best Challenge League Goalkeeper
Jamie Azzopardi (Żebbug Rangers); Andrea Cassar (Marsa); Matthew Grech (Pembroke Athleta)
MFPA Best Challenge League Defender
Shaun Bugeja (Żebbuġ Rangers); Juan Cruz Gill (Marsaxlokk); Adolphus Marshall (Pembroke Athleta).
MFPA Best Challenge League Midfielder
Ryan Fenech (Marsa); Stanimir Miloskovic (Żebbug Rangers); James Scicluna (Pietà Hotspurs).
MFPA Best Challenge League Forward
Wéverton Gomes Souza (Pembroke Athleta); Lydon Micallef (Lija Athletic); Terence Vella (Marsaxlokk).
MFPA Best Challenge League Player
To be selected from the above-listed nominees
MFPA BEST MEN’S YOUNG PLAYER
Jan Busuttil (Floriana); Marcus Grima (Balzan); Adam Magri Overend (Floriana); Paul Mbong (Birkirkara); Nevin Portelli (Gżira United); Kurt Shaw (Sliema Wanderers); Carlo Zammit Lonardelli (Sirens).
MFPA BEST XI
Jonathan Debono (Sirens); Georgi Kitanov (Floriana); Glenn Zammit (Gudja United).
Leandro Aguirre (Birkirkara); Gabriel Izquier Artiles (Hibernians); Ryan Camenzuli (Floriana).
BEST CENTRE-BACKS (2)
Andrei Agius (Hibernians); Leandro Almeida (Hibernians); Ferdinando Apap (Hibernians); Gabriel Bohrer Mentz (Gżira United); Oualid El Hasni (Floriana); Enrico Pepe (Birkirkara).
Cain Attard (Birkirkara); Adam Magri Overend (Floriana); Joseph Mbong (Ħamrun Spartans).
BEST MIDFIELDERS (3)
Ulises Arias (Floriana); Ivan Curjuric (Valletta); Jake Grech (Hibernians); Jackson Mendoza (Gżira United); Miloš Mijic (Balzan); Nikolai Muscat (Gżira United); Brandon Paiber (Floriana); Dunstan Vella (Hibernians); Diego Venancio (Birkirkara).
BEST FORWARDS (3)
Sunday Akinbule (Mosta); Thaylor Aldama (Hibernians); Jurgen Degabriele (Hibernians); Faissal El Bakhtaoui (Ħamrun Spartans); Uroš Ljubomirac (Balzan); Maxuell Maia (Gżira United); Gabriel Mensah (Gudja United); Luke Montebello (Birkirkara); Kemar Reid (Floriana).
MFPA WOMEN’S LEAGUE BEST XI
Jodie Attard (Swieqi United); Giulia D’Antuono (Raiders Lija); Patricia Ebejer (Mġarr United).
Abigail Camilleri (Mġarr United); Jade Flask (Swieqi United); Rebecca Vella (Raiders Lija).
BEST CENTRE-BACKS (2)
Leanne Cefai (Mġarr United); Maia Debono (Mġarr United); Jessica Dimech (Swieqi United); Stephania Farrugia (Birkirkara); Celine Galea (Kirkop United); Charlene Zammit (Birkirkara).
Anna Aloisio (Raiders Lija); Rebecca Bajada (Mġarr United); Jade Schembri (Swieqi United).
BEST MIDFIELDERS (3)
Brenda Borg (Mġarr United); Maya Lucia (Raiders Lija); Veronique Mifsud (Birkirkara); Ann-Marie Said (Birkirkara); Monique Sultana (Raiders Lija); Tracy Teuma (Birkirkara); Dorianne Theuma (Swieqi United); Jasmine Vella Turner (Mġarr United); Shona Zammit (Swieqi United).
BEST FORWARDS (3)
Leah Alice Ayres (Raiders Lija); Yulya Carella (San Ġwann); Francesca Chircop (Mġarr United); Aleksandra Georgieva (Kirkop United); Raina Giusti (Birkirkara); Patrizia Mary Lamanna (Birkirkara); Alishia Sultana (Birkirkara); Emma Xuereb (Swieqi United); Rodianne Zerafa (Kirkop United).
MFPA BEST WOMEN’S YOUNG PLAYER
Jodie Attard (Swieqi United); Maya Lucia (Raiders Lija); Veronique Mifsud (Birkirkara).
MFPA BEST COACH
Gianluca Atzori (Floriana); Thane Micallef (Gudja United); Stefano Sanderra (Hibernians).
MFPA BEST REFEREE
Philip Farrugia; Trustin Farrugia Cann; Slobodan Petrovic.