GFA Super Cup FinaI
Xewkija T : 2 (C. Antunes 74’, M. Stojanovic 90+1’)
F. Vella, R. Buttigieg, M. Xerri, M. Bamba, J. Cefai (J. Azzopardi), J.M. Vella, M. Stojanovic, G. Hili (M. Gauci), T. Vella (J. Vella), C. Antunes, T.M. Dos Santos.
Ghajnsielem : 1 (E.F. Da Silva Santos 48’)
L. Buttigieg, An. Xuereb, D. Mercieca, J.J. Sandoval Guarin, K. Mercieca, Al. Xuereb (D. Hili), K. Grima, S.F. Bajada, S. Bajada, G. Tushe (K. Hili), E. Felipe da Silva Santos..
The football season 2017/2018 in Gozo kicked off with the final of the Super Cup which was contested by reigning champions Xewkija Tigers and GFA Cup winners Ghajnsielem. The match lived up to the expectations as the outcome of final remained uncertain until the final minutes. The match was actually decided with a goal that arrived during stoppage time.
The two sides introduced several new players in their respective line-up and from what the two teams expressed during the encounter they both seem to have the potential to be among the main protagonists of Gozitan football this season. Xewkija however remain favorites to win the main competition. In this match the reigning champions produced a prudent approach during the first period but still created the better scoring opportunities. Xewkija also had an excellent reaction after conceding Ghajnsielem’s goal during the opening stages of the second period and ended up obtaining a deserved win. The main protagonists in Xewkija’s victory were actually their new signings Claudio Antunes and Milos Stojanovic who scored the two decisive goals. This was Xewkija’s fifth success in this competition and it was also the third consecutive win of this trophy.
On the other hand Ghajnsielem had an encouraging performance but they would need improvement to become serious challengers for the main honours. The Blacks saw more of the ball during the first period but failed to convert their possession into scoring opportunities. As time passed by Ghajnsielem, who played most of the encounter with only two foreign players on the field, seemed weak in their attempt to defend the goal that was scored during the opening minutes of the second half and ended up conceding Xewkija’s reaction until the final minutes.
Play for most of the first haf was rather balanced as the two defensive departments prevailed over the respective strikers. Xewkija however created the better scoring opportunities and could have easily ended the first half in the lead. On 10 minutes a low shot by Claudio Antunes following a cross from long distance by Rodney Buttigieg was neutralized by goalie Luke Buttigieg. On 29 minutes Xewkija’s Claudio Antunes head high from close distance following a cross by Thiago Melo Dos Santos and six minutes later a shot from outside the area by Joseph Mario Vella ended just over Ghajnsielem’s goal. The Blacks replied on 35 minutes through an attempt by Everton Felipe Da Silva Santos that was well saved by goalie Franklin Vella and one minute later Ghajnsielem’s defense failed to clear a free kick by Gennaro Hili. Xewkija’s Gennaro Hili headed inside the area but both Rodney Buttigieg and Thiago Melo Dos Santos failed to conclude form close distance. Xewkija continued to be more adventurous during the dying moments of the first half and on 37 minutes Ghajnsielem’s goalie Luke Buttigieg had good timing to take the ball before Thiago Melo Dos Santos could conclude towards goal and on two other separate occasions Thomas Vella and Claudio Antunes failed to take advantage of some hesitation by Ghajnsielem’s defense. In another occasion Ghajnsielem’s central defender Dylan Mercieca cleared off the goalmouth in time before Claudio Antunes could hit the ball for the tap in.
Ghajnsielem broke the deadlock on 48 minutes when Xewkija’s rearguard was surprised by a free kick taken by Shaun Bajada from an angled position and Everton Felipe Da Silva Santos was at the right place to deflect the ball in goal from close distance. Xewlija almost leveled the score on 54 minutes but a header by Claudio Antunes following a cross by Thiago Melo Dos Santos was stopped by the crossbar. On 70 minutes Xewkija were again dangerous when Claudio Antunes entered the area but form his cross Thiago Melo Dos Santos had his strike that was blocked by the defense. Xewkija’s efforts were rewarded on 74 minutes when Milos Stojanovic released Claudio Antunes who turned around his direct opponent in the area and netted with a low drive. Two minutes later Ghajnsielem’s central defender Dylan Mercieca saved his side from conceding an own goal as he cleared from an open goalmouth when goalie Luke Buttigieg hit badly in an attempt to take the ball inside the area. On 84 minutes the Tigers went again close to scoring through a header by Moussa Bamba following a corner kick by Gennaro Hili that ended just wide. Ghajnsielem could have regained the lead on 86 minutes but a close ranged shot by Everton Felipe Da Silva Santos, after exchanging the ball at the edge of the area with substitute Kenny Hili was well blocked by goalie Franklin Vella. Less than a minute later Xewkija had a shot by Claudio Antunes following a free kick that was blocked by Ghajnsielem’s defense to a corner. From the resultant corner, which was taken in the first minute of stoppage time, substitute Joseph Vella exchange the ball outside the area and from his cross Milos Stojanovic took the ball and surprised the defense and fired in goa, from close distance.
After the end of the match the President of the Gozo Football Association, Dr Samuel Azzopardi, presented mementos to the match officials, medals to all the players and the Super Cup Trophy to Xewkija’s captain among the celebrations of their numerous supporters on the stands.
Referee: Philip Farrugia