Eternal rivals Valletta and Floriana cross swords in the final of the eighty-fourth edition of the Izibet FA Trophy at the National Stadium on Sunday, kick-off at 17:00.
This will be the first time in three years that the competition will be completed as in the past two years, it has been interrupted due to the COVID restrictions. Balzan are the holders after winning the 2019 final on penalties against Valletta after a 4-4 draw at the end of extra-time.
Floriana will be hoping to win the FA Trophy for the twenty first time, therefore matching the record number of FA Trophy wins of Sliema Wanderers, as they are set to contest their thirty third final. Valletta, on the other hand, aim at winning the FA Trophy for the fifteenth time in the history of the club after reaching their twenty eighth final.
The Greens’ last success in the FA Trophy was in 2017 when they defeated Sliema Wanderers 2-0 while Valletta won the FA Trophy for the last time in 2018 when they beat Birkirkara 2-1
The two teams met eight times in finals of the FA Trophy. Floriana won the 1947 final after defeating Valletta 3-0 and ten years later, they won the trophy, once again at the expense of Valletta, beating them 2-0. In 1960, Valletta and Floriana met in the final of the FA Trophy with the Citizens emerging as winners 3-0. Between 1976 and 1978, the two teams met each other in three FA Trophy finals. Floriana won 2-0 in 1976 but in 1977, Valletta won 1-0 and in 1978, Valletta won 3-2. The two teams met again in a Trophy final in 1994 with Floriana winning 2-1 while in 2011, the FA Trophy final clash between Floriana and Valletta ended in a narrow 1-0 for the Greens.
Apart from the rivalry between the two teams, both sides will be all out to win the Trophy to end the season on a high.
This year, the two teams had mixed fortunes. Floriana were constantly in the battle for the championship but a defeat to Hibernians in the last match of the second round cost them the top spot in the Premier League and eventually in the Top Six final round, they lost to Gzira and were held in three goalless draws before winning their last game against Gudja United to settle for second place. Valletta, on the other hand, disappointed for most of the time, failing to make it to the Top Six. However in the Play-Out final round, they were quick to secure their Premier League status.
The Greens count on winning the FA Trophy in order to win a first honour after defeating Hibernians in the championship in 2019/20. On the other hand, Valletta had lifted the Super Cup in 2019. However, even more important for the Citizens is the fact that success in the Izibet FA Trophy would hand them a spot in the UEFA Europa Conference League.
In case of a win for Floriana in the Izibet FA Trophy final, Gzira United, who placed fourth in the Premier League would qualify for the UEFA Europa Conference League as the Greens have already qualified thanks to the runner-up spot in the Premier League table.
To reach this stage, Floriana defeated Ghajnsielem 1-0 in the Round of 32, St. George’s 2-0 in the Round of 16, Birkirkara 3-1 in the quarter-finals and Hibernians 2-1 in the semi-finals. Valletta, on the other hand, Marsaskala 5-0, Tarxien Rainbows 5-1, Marsaxlokk 3-0 and Santa Lucia 1-0.
Valletta and Floriana met twice this season with the Greens winning 3-0 and 2-0. Last season, Floriana had defeated Valletta 3-0 in the only clash between the two teams while in season 2019/20, following a 1-1 draw in the first round, the Citizens had registered a 1-0 win.
If the result at the end of the ninety minutes is still draw, extra-time would be played and in case the result is still draw, penalty-kicks shall be taken to determine the winner.
Meanwhile the Malta FA, in collaboration with the Police and the clubs, announced the following traffic and crowd management arrangements for the IZIBET FA Trophy final between Valletta and Floriana at the National Stadium on Sunday 15th May 2022. The fan zone will start at 14.00, whilst the gates are open at 15.30.
Remaining tickets can be purchased from the ticket booths on match day. Tickets for the West Stand which were being sold by the respective clubs were sold out.
Valletta vehicles and Nursery buses are to access the stadium either from Attard or from the road next to the Military Cemetery and park in the BOV adventure park side / Millennium Stand zone
Floriana vehicles are to park in the area in front of the dog park and adjacent road leading to Durumblat street. They are advised to make their way to the National Stadium from Mosta area.
The parking in front of the West stand will be strictly for those in possession of a Parking Pass.
The Malta FA together with the respective clubs is organising two separate fan zones ahead of this much awaited fixture. Valletta FC’s fan zone will be located in front of the Millenium Stand, while Floriana FC’s fan zone will be located in front of the Centenary Stadium.
The Fan Zone will be open at 2.00pm on Sunday, offering a range of activities, music and entertainment, to build the atmosphere around the National Stadium in Ta’ Qali.
Supporters can have their photo taken with the team mascot and face painting will be available for the clubs’ young supporters. Merchandising of each team will also be available in each of the Fan Zones.
Kurt Calleja will be performing pre-match in the stadium.
The Malta FA urges the general public to following instructions given by the Police officers, stadium staff and security personnel
Photo courtesy of Mark Zammit Cordina