Easy passage for Gzira into Quarter Finals
15th February 2023, Centenary Stadium, Ta’ Qali
Gzira United qualified for the quarter finals of the IZIBET FA Trophy after achieving a comfortable victory over Gozitan side Qala Saints, front runners in the Gozitan top first division league. This match was rescheduled after being postponed on the 9thFebruary, after the inclement weather which hit the Maltese Islands last week.
This match had two curiosities linked to it. First, it was the first time ever that Gzira United FC faced a Gozitan team in the FA Trophy. Second, Qala Saints entered the field of play, donning the same football kit Gzira used to play with a couple of seasons ago. For this match, it was Qala Saints who were ‘The Maroons’, the trademark colour and nickname with which Gzira United FC are so well renowned!
Despite fielding a team with several regulars missing, Gzira United controlled and dominated possession from the beginning till the end. The game was mainly played in Qala Saints’ half, except for some sporadic attempts by Qala, to try to break Gzira’s constant pressure.
Gzira started the match with David Cassar in goal and Gzira’s latest acquisitions Lucas Ribeiro De Oliveira and Ewertton Jose Costa Silva, together with upcoming youngster Brooklyn Borg, starting their first competitive match for Gzira United. Coach Darren Abilla effected a number of substitutions throughout the second half. to give more competitive playing time to all members of his playing squad. In fact, Gzira finished the match with six players who are the backbone of Gzira’s minor youth team who are also challenging for honours in their respective league. The players involved were Brooklyn Borg, Andrew Borg, Izaak Ellul, Hytem Kabar, Mohamed Alouzi and goalkeeper Krassimir Zammit. All have a bright playing future ahead of them.
Despite all these changes in formation for this match, Gzira were still too strong for Qala Saints and Gzira could have added more to the score line. The match resembled more a training session, rather than a competitive match. Qala Saints put up a brave effort but finished up most of the match chasing the ball in Gzira’s shadows.
Gzira took the initiative right from the start. In the 6th minute, a freekick from the left by Kolega was headed over the bar by Marko Kosic. In the 14th minute, Bohrer had his freekick blocked by the Qala wall. In the 15th minute and the 18th minute, Oliveira had two attempts on Qala’s goal, after assists from Ewertton.
In the 22nd minute, in a rare attack by Qala, Suzuki had his shot well saved by Gzira goalkeeper David Cassar.
After this, more Gzira chances followed. In the 24th minute, a low cross by Toni Kollega was intercepted by the Qala defenders in the six-yard box, followed by a shot from Oliviera which went wide. In the 29th minute, Brooklyn Borg had his goal disallowed for an adjudged foul on Qala’s keeper. In the 30th minute, Ewertton had his shot from the bye line saved.
Gzira’s pressure finally paid off when in the 37th minute, after a low cross from Thiago Espindola from the left flank, within the penalty area, found Brooklyn Borg rushing into Qala’s six-yard box, to dive and drive the ball into the net, giving no chance to Qala’s keeper Vella. This was Borg’s first goal for Gzira in a first team competitive match.
In the 44th minute, Zachary Scerri nearly doubled the score for Gzira, but his shot just missed the target. This was a prelude to Gzira’s second goal. In fact, in additional time reaching the 46’ minute, a cross by Toni Kolega from the right, just outside the box, found Lucas Ribeiro De Oliveira in Qala’s six-yard box, who unmarked himself, to tap the ball coolly in Qala’s goal, past their custodian.
The second half followed on as in the first half, with Gzira imposing their dominance on Qala. In the 52’minute, Bohrer’s freekick was cleared. In the 53’ minute, Andrew Borg hit wide after an assist by Espindola. In the 55’minute, a corner by Kolega was met by Brooklyn Borg, with the ball going just wide of the far post.
In the 58th minute, Thiago Espindola’s cross was intercepted by Qala’s keeper. In the 61st minute, Andrew Borg had his shot saved following an Ewertton assist. In the 63rd minute, Gzira went close. Ewertton’s pass found Oliviera entering the opponent’s penalty area, with the latter’s shot being partly saved by Qala’s goalkeeper Vella, with the ball bouncing off the upright.
In the 75th minute Gzira struck again. Brooklyn Borg dribbled his way into Qala’s penalty area to be bundled over for a penalty award. Gabriel Bohrer stepped up, to drive home the spot kick low into the left-hand corner of the net, beating Qala Vella’s dive to no avail.
In the closing stages, Gzira could have scored further. In the 80th minute, a cross by Espindola was just missed by Brooklyn Borg. In the 82’ minute, substitute Hytem Kabar had his shot well saved by the Qala keeper from close range, while in the 87’minute, substitute Mohamed Alouzi also just missed to score following an assist by Ewertton.
The last action of the match was in the 88th minute, when Qala Attard’s shot was saved by Gzira substitute goalkeeper Krassimir Zammit.
The referee’s final whistle brought an end to Gzira’s sixth consecutive victory in all competitions, with seventeen goals scored and none conceded. Gzira now look forward to the upcoming FA Trophy draw to find out their next opponents in the quarter final stage of this season’s competition.