The local senior competitions get off to an official start this Sunday with the Malta Sport Journalists Super Cup up for grabs in both the men and women categories.
In the men’s competition, the new season will set off featuring the teams that closed the old season when new local champions Falken Cynergi Virtus face Gzira Athleta, last season’s KO winners, in the 26th Super Cup Men final in history with the game scheduled for a tip-off at 4.30pm on Sunday 4th October.
Gzira Athleta is the team with the most Super Cup successes with twelve victories including winning all the cup finals since 2009, six in total.
Coach Joe Galea, who will be returning on the team bench after missing the pre-season Independence Cup tournament through suspension, said “As the most succesful team in the past 15 years, we are aiming to again add the Super Cup to our list of honours. The club’s amalgamation with Gzira should give the squad an added motivation to win the first trophy under our new name of Gzira Athleta.”
Athleta, who have engaged American import Markus Montague, were not in full strength in the pre-season tournament two weeks ago, but coach Galea said, “Gzira Athleta are set to field the best team possible for this final including the return of Michael Naudi and Roderick Vella.”
On the other hand, Falken Cynergi, fresh from their first league championship win, will be aiming to be the fifth club in history to win the Super Cup (other winners include Luxol (7 times and first ever winners in 1991), Depiro (5) and Hamrun Liberty (1)).
Team coach Paul Ferrante stated that he looks forward to a positive performance from his team, who have engaged American import Chris Santo, because playing Athleta in a final has always given his players the right amount of motivation, “last year we played three finals against Athleta, namely the Shield, Knock-out and the Play-off League Finals. Apart from the usual pre-match expectations, which every final brings with it, the fact that Athleta have a number of experienced players in their roster will definitely help our team stay in focus throughout our preparation. Our opponents have players who have been on top in the local scene for a number of years, players who deserve our respect and these will definitely be a tough opposition to beat next Sunday in the Malta Sport Journalists Super Cup Final.”
The Malta Sport Journalists Super Cup Women Final will be played at 2.45pm also on Sunday 4th October when champions Caffe Moak Luxol face Athleta in the 25th Super Cup Women Final in history.
Luxol, who were the first ever winners of the Women Super Cup in 1992, have raised the same cup in the last four years and will try to win the cup for the 7th time in their history and thus surpass Depiro who are also on six successes. Hibernians remain the all-time best in this competition with nine victories.
The champions, now led on the sidelines by Charles Bonnici, beat Athleta 48-26 in a 30 minute game during the pre-season Independence Cup tournament yet it may be a different ball game in the first official game of the season.
Last year’s KO winners Athleta, led by coach Ruth Spiteri, will be featuring in their first Super Cup final since 1998. The club has two Super Cup wins in 1995 and 1998 and this will be the first time that Luxol and Athleta meet in a Super Cup Women Final.