Assikura Women’s League: Comfortable wins for Birkirkara, Swieqi United

Champions Birkirkara launched their domestic campaign with a victory while title contenders Swieqi United, who finished second last year, also secured a big win as the Assikura Women’s League kicked off over the weekend.

Birkirkara started their quest to a 12th women’s title with a big win over Lija Athletic at the Centenary Stadium, on Thursday. Under the guidance of Jose Borg, the Stripes broke little sweat to score 11 goals against one of the two new additions to this year’s championship.

Youth goalkeeper Erika Muscat was handed a start between the sticks with upcoming defender Valentina Rapa partnering Charlene Zammit at the back. Former Malta U-19’s player Izabella Camilleri was also given the nod together with new signings Caitlin Rodgers and Edith Garcia.

Raina Giusti, who started as the lone striker, recorded a hat-trick together with Italian winger Marta Grosso. Alishia Sultana grabbed two goals while the remaining three were registered by Uruguayan Garcia, Ann-Marie Said – captain on the night – and Veronique Mifsud.

The Malta champions will now switch their focus on the Champions League as they will host Montenegro’s Breznica in the semi-final of the first qualifying round on September 6.

Lija Athletic, on their part, will take on San Ġwann in their second game of the season.

They are coached by Jethron Azzopardi and included in their starting formation were former Swieqi United midfielder Simone Buttigieg, ex-Raiders Lija Leanne Micallef and Edera Marmara, Shakira Bugeja and Mariah Schembri who joined from Hibernians.

Mġarr United had to wait until the final quarter of the game to score twice and propel themselves to a season opener victory against a gutsy San Ġwann side. Kelly Agius Pace opened the score before defender Abigail Camilleri doubled the lead. However, San Ġwann did pull one back late in stoppage time but it was not enough for them to salvage at least a point from this match.

Led by coach Michael Mangion, Mġarr had two new faces in their starting formation in defender Anastasia Sivolobova – a Moldova international, and Brazilian playmaker Joelma. On the other hand, San Ġwann’s coach Julian Camilleri gave the nod to three foreigners including former Mġarr duo Tourki Chaaima and Oumaima Mhalli. Andela Kricak of Serbia, who grabbed the goal for San Ġwann, was the other foreigner.

Hibernians scored three goals without reply as they defeated Valletta to launch their domestic campaign on a positive note. Keith Gouder’s side opened the score just before half-time through a Sarah Urpani’s long-range shot. After the break, captain Martina Borg doubled the lead with an effort inside the penalty area before Kayleigh Chetcuti wrapped up the win with another shot from outside the area.

The Paolites had a new goalkeeper between the sticks in Canadian Zeeyana Jivraj who replaced Raisa Costantino after the Maltese custodian left for Italy.

Valletta, on their part, were making their debut in the women’s game after merging with Raiders. Led by coach Denis Guerra, Valletta’s starting formation was composed by former Raiders Lija players including captain Monique Sultana.

A strong performance by Swieqi United allowed them to clinch three points in the season opener at the expense of Mtarfa. The Owls saw their two new forwards find the net in Kennedy Metzger – twice and Karima Abdulai, one goal inside the first seven minutes. Salamatu Abdulai, who joined the club in January, also found the net as she scored twice.

The other goals were grabbed by youngster Ema Micallef and Shona Zammit, captain on the night in the absence of Dorianne Theuma. Chanelle Borg, born in 2006, was between the sticks for Swieqi as Patricia Araujo’s registration was not submitted in time for this game. Araujo joined the Owls from Brazilian giants Corinthians to replace Cynthia Konlan who embarked in Saudi football.

Mtarfa, on their part, managed to find the net thanks to one of their new signings in Laura Tobon. Alice Ferrari and Shauline Maoga, also summer additions, were handed a club debut by coach Simon Spiteri.