The focus will be on the best performers during the 2022-23 domestic football season when the MFPA Awards 2023 are held on 1st May at Sky Club. Preparations for this eagerly-anticipated event are gathering pace with the Malta Football Players Association announcing the final nominees who have been voted for by their fellow peers.
A total of 35 awards will be up for grabs during the gala night, 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. In addition to the nominated players in the four main categories, the best coach and best referee will also be honoured during the MFPA Awards.
There are a total of 22 nominees in the MFPA Best XI categories for both men and women. The winners of last year’s MFPA Best Player awards, Hibernians forward Jurgen Degabriele and Birkirkara defender Charlene Zammit, have again been nominated in the MFPA Best XI categories. The final three nominees for the coveted MFPA Best Player honour (men and women) will be unveiled during the MFPA Awards night on 1st May followed by the announcement of the winner.
Newly-crowned Maltese champions Ħamrun Spartans boast the highest number of contenders in the men’s categories with nine followed by Birkirkara, currently second in the BOV Premier League, with five nominees. In the women’s categories (MFPA Women’s Best XI and MFPA Best Women’s Young Player), Assikura Women’s League leaders and current champions Birkirkara lead the way with eight nominees while second-placed Swieqi United have seven.
There are three candidates for the MFPA Best Men’s and Women’s Young Player awards, last year won by Floriana playmaker Jan Busuttil and Maya Lucia, currently playing for Italian club Genoa Women.
The nominees in the Challenge League categories are in the running to win the MFPA Best Challenge League Player award, last year won by Lydon Micallef, now playing for Sliema Wanderers, who is also in contention this year. There are four contenders for the MFPA Best Amateur League player award, introduced last year.
In addition to the eligibility criteria related to the minimum playing time for all the nominees, players could not vote for a candidate who plays for the same team. The initial nominees were shortlisted by a panel of coaches.
MFPA MEN’S BEST XI (3-5-2)
Goalkeepers: Henry Bonello (Ħamrun Spartans); Darijan Zarkov (Gżira United).
Centre-backs: Ferdinando Apap (Hibernians); Ognjen Bjelicic (Ħamrun Spartans); Steve Borg (Ħamrun Spartans); Emerson Marcelina (Ħamrun Spartans); Gabriel Mentz (Gżira United); Enrico Pepe (Birkirkara).
Right wing-backs: Juan Carlos Corbalan (Ħamrun Spartans); Christ Ememe (Mosta.
Left wing-backs: Leandro Aguirre (Marsaxlokk); Ryan Camenzuli (Ħamrun Spartans).
Midfielders: Boubakary Diarra (Mosta); Matthew Guillaumier (Ħamrun Spartans); Brandon Paiber (Valletta); Roko Prsa (Ħamrun Spartans); Angel Torres (Balzan); Yannick Yankam (Birkirkara).
Forwards: Enzo Daniel Cabrera (Birkirkara); Jefferson de Assis (Gżira United); Jurgen Degabriele (Hibernians); Charles Lokoli Ngoy (Żebbuġ Rangers).
MFPA MEN’S BEST PLAYER
All the candidates for the MFPA Men’s Best XI are nominated.
MFPA MEN’S BEST YOUNG PLAYER
Shaun Dimech (Valletta); Paul Mbong (Birkirkara); Jake Vassallo (Mosta).
MFPA BEST COACH
Darren Abdilla (Gżira United); Branko Nisevic (Ħamrun Spartans); Oliver Spiteri (Balzan); Giovanni Tedesco (Birkirkara).
MFPA WOMEN’S BEST XI (4-3-3)
Goalkeepers: Cynthia Konlan (Swieqi United); Janice Xuereb (Birkirkara).
Centre-backs: Maia Melaine Debono (Mġarr United); Stephania Farrugia (Birkirkara); Georgiana Mifsud (Raiders-Lija); Charlene Zammit (Birkirkara).
Right-backs: Chloe Ann Ellul (Hibernians); Jade Schembri (Swieqi United).
Left-backs: Alishia Sultana (Birkirkara); Emma Xuereb (Swieqi United).
Midfielders: Brenda Borg (Mġarr United); Martina Borg (Hibernians); Veronique Mifsud (Birkirkara); Ann-Marie Said (Birkirkara); Dorianne Theuma (Swieqi United); Shona Zammit (Swieqi United).
Forwards: Rebecca Atinga (Swieqi United); Yulya Carella (Mġarr United); Alexis Veronica Espitia (Hibernians); Lexine Farrugia (Raiders-Lija); Jade Flask (Swieqi United); Sara Saliba (Birkirkara).
MFPA WOMEN’S BEST PLAYER
All the candidates for the MFPA Women’s Best XI are nominated.
MFPA WOMEN’S BEST YOUNG PLAYER
Maia Melaine Debono (Mġarr United); Lexine Farrugia (Raiders-Lija); Sara Saliba (Birkirkara).
MFPA CHALLENGE LEAGUE
Goalkeepers: Rashed Al Tumi (Sliema Wanderers); Ryan Caruana (Melita); Yenz Cini (Naxxar Lions).
Defenders: Ryan Gilmour Cassar (Naxxar Lions); Carlos Conceicao Filho (Tarxien Rainbows); Murilo Henrique Freire Bernardo (Sliema Wanderers).
Midfielders: Edmond Agius (Sliema Wanderers); Matthew Debattista (Melita); Neil Pace Cocks (Naxxar Lions).
Forwards: Aroldo da Silva Arruda (Fgura United); Erikys da Silva Ferreira (Naxxar Lions); Lydon Micallef (Sliema Wanderers).
MFPA BEST CHALLENGE LEAGUE PLAYER
All the candidates in the four Challenge League categories are nominated.
MFPA BEST AMATEUR LEAGUE PLAYER
Aidan Agius Gilford (Xgħajra Tornados); Saint Ebisindor Christian (Mġarr United); Romeu Pericles Romao (Msida St Joseph); Timothy Thomas (Senglea Athletic).
MFPA BEST REFEREE
Philip Farrugia; Trustin Farrugia Cann; Fyodor Zammit.