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Mifsud returns in triumph

Published: Monday 26 January 2004, 9.30CET
Malta review Michael Mifsud's return to his homeland has been the big story of the last month. features

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Published: Monday 26 January 2004, 9.30CET

Mifsud returns in triumph

Malta review Michael Mifsud's return to his homeland has been the big story of the last month.

Maltese international striker Michael Mifsud's return to his homeland has been the big story of the month on the Mediterranean island.

Back with a bang
Mifsud has rejoined former club Sliema Wanderers FC after being released by Germany's 1. FC Kaiserslautern at the end of 2003 and he marked his comeback with a goal in the champions' 3-0 win against Valletta FC.

Top-of-the-table clash
A week later he was on the scoresheet again, claiming the winner in the top-of-the-table clash against championship rivals Birkirkara FC. The result ensures that Edward Aquilina's side are now three points clear at the top of the Maltese Premier League.

Challenge dented
As well as losing to Sliema, Birkirkara's challenge was also dented by a recent 2-1 loss against Hibernians FC, with substitute Adrian Mifsud scoring both the victors' goals. After that win, and a 2-1 success against Hamrun Spartans FC, Hibernians are level with Birkirkara on 32 points, with a game in hand, and right back in the title hunt. A further blow to Birkirkara has been the news that Malta international George Mallia will miss the rest of the season with a knee ligament injury.

Marsaxlokk on a run
Elsewhere, Marsaxlokk FC, aided by the arrival of Daniel Bogdanovic, have crept nearer to a berth in the final 'championship pool' phase of the season with three consecutive wins against Valletta, Msida St. Joseph FC and Balzan Youths FC.

Valletta in trouble
However the once mighty Valletta are in deep trouble, having edged ever closer to a place in the relegation pool phase. Further down the table Hamrun Spartans seem destined for the drop despite the continued good form of the Maltese league's all-time top scorer, Stefan Sultana, who has now raised his career goals total to 180.

Final phase
After 18 matches the season will enter its final stage, with the first six teams participating in the 'championship pool' and the other four competing in the 'relegation pool'. Each team has its points tally halved before this final phase of the season.

Schembri trial
Elsewhere, Hibernians youngster Andre Schembri, still only 17, enjoyed a recent week-long trial with English Premier League club Aston Villa FC. "I was quite surprised by Villa’s request," Schembri told "Being included in the first eleven for Hibernians this season has obviously played a major part in being given this opportunity to make the grade abroad."

Youth coach impressed
Schembri was invited to turn out in a one-off Under-19 match against Chelsea FC after impressing Villa youth coach Tony McAndrew, but has now returned to Malta.

Last updated: 26/01/04 14.23CET