Gżira United have set their sights on qualifying for European football for a second successive season as the Maroons unveiled their new signings during a press conference at the club’s premises, yesterday.

Since making a return to the top flight of Maltese football three years ago, Gżira United have grew in stature as they managed to establish themselves among the top teams in the Premier League.

Last season, they reached new ground when they ended a 45-year wait and qualify to European football after placing third in the Premier League.

That earned them a place in the Europa League preliminary round where they managed to ease past Andorra’s UE Sant Julia before bowing out to Zrinskji, of Serbia in the first qualifying round.

“We are really proud of our achievements last season but we are surely not resting on our laurels,” Darren Abdilla, the Gżira coach, told a news conference.

“The club is very ambitious and our main goal this season will again be to try and qualify for European football for another season.

“We are aware that competition is getting tougher and tougher as all our rivals have strengthened their ranks in the close season but I am confident that we have the quality to challenge for top three position come the end of the season.”

This summer, the Maroons have strengthened their squad with the arrival of Brazilian duo Rodolfo Soares and Jorginho, who signed from Hibernians, and Italian wingback Thomas Veronese, formerly of Mosta.

Abdilla said that Gżira are not finished yet in trying to improve their squad and said that they are working on bringing in two other overseas player.

“I think that we need to strengthen our squad in the midfield department and we are currently in talks with an overseas player that has already experience of playing in Maltese football,” Abdilla said.

“We have other options waiting on the wings but we will surely further strengthen our squad by the time the transfer window shuts on August 31.”

Professional set-up

On his part, president Sharlon Pace said that he is keen to help the club make another step forward and in fact they have reached an agreement with all the players in his squad to turn semi-professionals.

“If Gżira is to become one of the top teams in Maltese football we have to take our set up to another level and to this end as from this season all players in the squad will train twice weekly in the morning,” Pace said.

“Still our long term goal is become fully professional and we have a project in place to implement this strategy in three years’ time.”

The Gżira supremo said that the club is also planning to have their own football stadium and work has already started last year when they earmarked the University Ground. 

“Last year we did a lot of ground work on this project and we thought that we had made a breakthrough but unfortunately we found a lot of resistance from the University of Malta,” Pace said.

“But we are still working on this project which will see not only the construction of a football stadium that will hold a capacity of 5,000 spectators but will also include accommodation facilities, a parking area and also offices that will be also used by the University of Malta employees.

“We hope to have our stadium in our locality but if not we will be forced to seek another venue somewhere else.”