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Season review: Malta

Published: Tuesday 21 June 2011, 9.27CET
Valletta FC steamrolled all comers in the race to win the Maltese Premier League title, but they were to be denied a domestic double as Floriana FC captured their first FA Trophy since 1994.
by Domenic Aquilina
from Malta
Season review: Malta
Valletta celebrate winning their 20th Maltese title ©Domenic Aquilina
Published: Tuesday 21 June 2011, 9.27CET

Season review: Malta

Valletta FC steamrolled all comers in the race to win the Maltese Premier League title, but they were to be denied a domestic double as Floriana FC captured their first FA Trophy since 1994.

A 20th Maltese title was richly deserved for Valletta FC, who remained unbeaten in the league all season. Yet they blotted their copybook in their final outing of the campaign, losing to Floriana FC in the FA Trophy final.

Champions: Valletta FC
Boasting the best attack (59 goals scored) and tightest defence (17 conceded), Valletta were unstoppable under Jesmond Zerafa, cruising to their first championship since 2007/08 with three matches to spare. A fiesta band featured in the subsequent celebrations in the capital's Republic Street, which were so loud that trials at the local courts had to be interrupted.

Cup final: Floriana FC 1-0 Valletta FC
The National Stadium's biggest crowd of the season witnessed Floriana's 19th FA Trophy success, their first major honour since they last won the cup in 1994, also beating Valletta. Extra time beckoned in a fiercely contested game when Ivan Woods' free-kick found the target a minute from time. It was the champions' only defeat of 2010/11.

European Places
Valletta FC – UEFA Champions League first qualifying round
Floriana FC – UEFA Europa League second qualifying round
Birkirkara FC – UEFA Europa League first qualifying round

Player of the year: Roderick Briffa (Valletta FC)
The midfield anchorman is one of the finest players on the island, and shone once more in his side's title success. "This 20th title for the club means a lot to me," the 29-year-old, sure to be a front-runner when the official player of the season is decided, told UEFA.com. "Over the course of this season we showed unity all the way. I'm very happy for myself, the club and of course our 12th player; the unique supporters who carried us through good times and bad."

One to watch: Matt Towns (Floriana FC)
Goalkeeper Towns helped propel Floriana to runners-up in the league and cup success; some achievement for the 28-year-old, who had been playing non-league football with Droylsden FC in his native England. "I'm very happy," Towns said after the cup final. "Since I arrived here in February it has been really overwhelming."

Surprise package: Marsaxlokk FC
Floriana's form was perhaps the biggest shock of the season, but credit too to promoted Marsaxlokk who more than held their own, finishing fifth. However, it was a season when big names underperformed. Reigning champions Birkirkara could only manage third, while Sliema Wanderers FC and Qormi FC – the latter with Malta captain Michael Mifsud in their ranks – suffered the indignity of enduring the relegation play-offs.

Leading Scorer: Alfred Effiong, Marsaxlokk FC (17)

Relegated: Vittoriosa Stars FC

Promoted: Balzan Youths FC, Mqabba FC, Mosta FC

Number: 30
The number of league matches Valletta have gone since their last defeat, against Birkirkara FC in March 2010.

Quote
"I dedicate this title to the Valletta football family, the squad players, committee, our special supporters, and my technical staff. This is a day to remember for a big club like Valletta."
Jesmond Zerafa shares his joy at winning the title

Last updated: 08/07/11 16.49CET

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