The 2018/2019 women’s football campaign will come to an end today as Birkirkara and Mġarr United will contend the final honour of the season – the Women’s Knock-Out – at the Mosta Ground (kick-off: 8pm).
The Stripes are on the back of their third successive championship crown after fending off a stiff challenge from second-placed Mġarr.
Led by Melania Bajada, Birkirkara are striving to add the cup to their trophy cabinet, which would mean completing a third straight league-cup double to further rubberstamp their dominance in women’s football.
Last season, Birkirkara, who are chasing a record-15th success in this competition, beat Mġarr in a penalty shoot-out during last year’s final.
This season, the Stripes showcased quality at both ends of the pitch, scoring 81 goals and conceded just six to start as clear favourites for another honour.
One of the top Birkirkara players who have been performing up to her best this season is versatile player Alishia Sultana, whose pace and skill saw her develop into one of the best local Maltese players.
Asked by the Times of Malta what would another trophy mean to the club, Sultana said that victory over Mġarr would strengthen their identity in the women’s game.
“After claiming the championship crown, we are determined to march on and lift another silverware that would strengthen Birkirkara’s image in the women’s game,” Sultana said.
“First of all, I would like to congratulate our opponents Mġarr United for their impressive campaign as they motivated us to continue perform at the highest level to preserve our top status in the league championship.
Given the results attained against Mġarr this season, we are expecting a very tight encounter.”
In fact, both Birkirkara and Mġarr have been authors of some exciting performances in the past two seasons, which augurs well for the quality of the women’s game.
“The more competitive the game is, the more it will be entertaining for the fans and that will help us to engage more with the local football followers while it inspires other girls to play the Beautiful Game,” Sultana explained.
On the other hand, Mġarr, under the guidance of highly-experienced coach Patrick Curmi, are eager to end their season with a trophy that would cap their excellent year.
A Knock-Out success would make Mġarr the fifth different team to have won this tournament after Rabat Ajax, Birkirkara, Hibernians and Mosta.
However, to do so, Mġarr must collect their first win over the Stripes this season after falling short in the all four ties this year so far – 2-1 and 4-1 defeats and two 0-0 stalemates.
Nonetheless, the Greens have impressed so much this year, giving the impression that they will be up for the challenge to major honours together with Birkirkara and Hibernians, whom they pipped to second place with a record number of points – 47.
Among the players the Greens can bank on, is skipper Brenda Borg whose leadership qualities and goals are helping her becoming an established player in the women’s game.
“It is true that we are yet to beat Birkirkara this season, but our performances have been satisfactory against them,” Borg said.
“We feel that have reached the level of Hibernians and we are not so distant from Birkirkara – we must believe more in our capabalities while gaining more experience would help us become far more competitive.”
Borg, a fellow national team member of Sultana, has always pledged loyalty to Mġarr even when they seemed far off from giving a hard time to teams like Birkirkara and Hibernians.
However, in the past years, the youth crop at the club has propelled this team to the upper echelons in the championship and are in the cup final for a second straight time.
“Looking back to the early years of Mġarr FC, I am so pleased to see how far this club has come even though not everyone really appreciate it,” Borg said.
“Our display against Birkirkara in last season’s final injected a lot of courage into our environment and it helped us reach this year’s target – to secure a top-two finish for the first time in our history.
“Moreover, a lot of young players who came up through our academy ranks have played a key role in our growth and rather than just an outsider, we are now transforming ourselves into worthy challengers.”
En route to the final, Birkirkara defeated Swieqi United 3-0 in the quarter-finals before seeing off Kirkop United 4-0 in the semi-finals to book a third straight final berth.
On the other hand, Mġarr had opened their campaign with a 5-0 rout of Mosta before dispatching Hibernians 5-2 after extra-time in the last four.
Last 10 winners
- 2009 Birkirkara
- 2010 Birkirkara
- 2011 Birkirkara
- 2012 Mosta
- 2013 Birkirkara
- 2014 Birkirkara
- 2015 Hibernians
- 2016 Hibernians
- 2017 Birkirkara
- 2018 Birkirkara
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