Listen: Gaucci has big plans for Floriana

Listen: Gaucci has big plans for Floriana

Not ready to experience another year of continuous personal attacks

Floriana president Riccardo Gaucci has heaped praise on his players as the Greens threw a spanner in Valletta’s bid to successfully retain their Premier League title with a 2-0 victory at the National Stadium.

After Hibernians were held by Mosta on Saturday afternoon, the Malta champions had the chance to take a significant step towards retaining the league crown for a second successive season with victory over their fierce rivals that would have given them a commanding four-point lead at the top of the standings with only four matches to go.

But Floriana had other plans.

Goals in each half from Brandon Paiber and Kristian Keqi handed them a precious victory as with the three points collected on Sunday they have all but assured themselves of moving away from a relegation scrap.

In fact, they have moved on the 28-point mark that gives them mathematical certainty of avoiding the bottom two places in the category.

On the other hand, Valletta remain top of the standings, just one point clear of Hibernians, five ahead of Gżira United who they face on Sunday.

“I am really satisfied with the performance of the team on Sunday,” Gaucci told the Times of Malta yesterday.

“The derby is always a match that our fans have a huge connection with. I am really pleased that the players gave their all to bring home a marvellous victory. There is no hiding that we had a very disappointing season and this win somewhat restores our pride.”

Gaucci heaped praise on coach Guido Ugolotti who he felt has shown all his coaching qualities when injecting back much-needed tranquility in the club after a very difficult spell.

“Guido Ugolotti has been our biggest signing of the season,” the Floriana president said.

“The coach arrived at our club at a very difficult time. When he was given the job he found a club that was marred with a lot of problems. But I knew that he was the right man for the job as he has great coaching qualities.

“He deserves all the praise because he managed to take control of our squad and restored key values in our players that helped them go through such a difficult spell.

“His work came to fruition in the last few weeks when the team managed three wins and a draw, albeit we should have won the match against Balzan as we were denied a clear goal in stoppage time, that ultimately sealed our place in the top flight.”

Gaucci said that seeing his team holding their own against champions Valletta left him with a tinge of what disappointment at what it could have been had they shown that kind of spirit at the start of the season.

“We started the season with bigger expectations than just trying to avoid relegation,” Gaucci said.

“Unfortunately, throughout the season the team and the club’s hierarchy saw their work being damaged by the continuous intrusions and attacks of persons outside our club.

“I hope that these people will stop damaging our club because I cannot go on like this. I won’t accept to have more interferences like we had this term next season.”

Gaucci said that one big positive for his club that materialised in the last few weeks was the fact that they have built a solid foundation for the future.

“Sunday’s result and performance is testimony that we can now boast of a valid squad of players that are capable of challenging the best teams on the island,” Gaucci said.

“During the January transfer window, we have made a lot of changes in our squad, bringing in several new faces to our squad. The players have slowly amalgamated into a very competitive team.

“I’m sure that with one or two additions in the summer we will be able to see the team challenge for major honours next season.”

Floriana goalkeeper Ini Akpan clears the ball away against Valletta. Photo: Darrin Zammit LupiFloriana goalkeeper Ini Akpan clears the ball away against Valletta. Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

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