Sliema Wanderers have turned to 'old' warhorse Edward Aquilina to revive their glory days.

Aquilina, who has been away from coaching for four years having resigned from his post at Valletta after guiding them to another league championship, replaces Englishman Jeff Wood.

Wood's contract was not renewed after the Wanderers finished second in the league and failed to win any of the major domestic honours.

Aquilina has won six championships in a playing career spanning 18 years. After hanging up his boots in 1979, the former Sliema and Hibs player, who also had a stint in the United States in 1967, moved into coaching.

He was at the helm of Sliema for three seasons. In his first two years, the Blues twice finished runners-up but in season 1982-83, the team was demoted after losing a decisive match with Hibernians when a draw would have been enough for them to retain their status.

Aquilina was back in the limelight several years later when taking charge of Valletta in 1995, helping them to several honours during his three-year coaching reign, including a then record five-trophy haul in season 1996-97.

Aquilina was Sliema's no.1 target to fill the vacant coaching role but his appointment was only confirmed after Sunday's annual general meeting during which Robert Arrigo was named president despite the fact that he did not file his nomination for a post on the club's committee.

Aquilina's primary task will be to rebuild the squad as several players are expected to be transferred.

Nigerian Orosco Anonam has already joined Cyprus champions Apoel Nicosia on a one-year contract and defender Luke Dimech has decided to try his luck in England.

Sliema have set their sights on a number of established players in their bid to clinch the Premiership crown next season.

Birkirkara trio Joe Brincat, Chucks Nwoko and Antoine Zahra are in their plans and sources said that Brincat is very close to securing a very lucrative deal with the Blues.

If Brincat joins Sliema, Birkirkara are expected to recruit a midfielder from Scotland who has an impressive CV.

Valletta's experienced defensive duo of Jeffrey Chetcuti and Darren Debono are also on the Wanderers' shopping list on the recommendation of Aquilina, who worked with them during his stint with the Citizens.

The Wanderers are also reported to be lining up a bid for Pietà Hotspurs goalkeeper Saviour Darmanin.

Pietà close in on Australian midfielder

Pietà Hotspurs, now under the guidance of Ray 'Zazu' Farrugia, are also stepping up their efforts to strengthen their squad for the coming season. Farrugia is close to signing an Australian midfielder who impressed the former Malta U-21 coach during a recent visit to the land 'down under'.

The Hotspurs have also expressed an interest in league top-scorer Danilo Doncic, who last season played for Sliema Wanderers.

Lija's Gordon Camenzuli has also been approached by the Hotspurs.

MFA Footballer of the Year award

The winners of the MFA 2001-02 honours will be known this evening during a council meeting at the Centenary Hall. The announcement of the Footballer of the Year award winner will certainly attract interest.

The leading contenders are Adrian Mifsud (Hibs), William Camenzuli (Birkirkara) and Mario Muscat (Hibs). Mifsud was on top of the list after the first round of voting and is favourite to claim the honour for the first time in his career.

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