Second-half goals keep Qormi hopes alive
Bello-Osagie 55; Effiong 63;
Qormi kept alive their slim hopes of qualifying for this season’s Championship Pool when they had the better of Mosta by the odd goal in three.
Second-half goals from Aboubakar Bello-Osagie and Alfred Effiong earned the Yellow-Blacks a priceless victory that enables them to leapfrog Balzan in sixth place and close the gap on Sliema Wanderers and Mosta to just four points with only two matches to go till the end of the first phase.
No doubt, the impressive form of late shown by the Jesmond Zerafa’s team fills their fans with confidence that they could pull off a remarkable qualification.
Both teams came into the match in contrasting form.
Qormi were brimming with confidence after a come-from-behind victory over Tarxien was followed by a stunning quali-fication to the quarter finals of the U*Bet FA Trophy at the expense of the more-quoted Birkirkara.
Mosta were looking for some much-needed reprieve after back-to-back defeats, including a 7-1 defeat to Birkirkara, put their top-six prospects in danger.
Alfred Effiong replaced Alessio Cassar in Qormi’s only change to their starting line-up while Duncan Pisani, who joined Qormi from Floriana, started on the bench.
Mosta mentor Steve D’Amato named two debutants in his formation Kurt Magro, an old acquaintance of the club who re-joined Mosta together with former Lazio and Parma midfielder Fabio Vignaroli.
The Italian midfielder’s first noteworthy intervention came within the first two minutes. His well-taken free-kick, hit low towards the far post, drew a good save from Matthew Farrugia.
Five minutes later, Mosta survived a dangerous situation as a long ball reached Effiong outside the box but the Nigerian striker opted to square the ball for Bello-Osagie instead of shooting and Carlos Campagnoli cleared the danger.
Thereafter, flowing football was hard to come by, with both sets of players finding it hard to establish a foothold in the match.
Vignaroli supplied the flair in midfield with Danail Mitev, Mosta’s lone striker upfront, also dropping deep occasionally to be more involved in the the team’s build-up play.
Yet, Bello-Osagie’s speed and agility helped to launch another menacing Qormi attack. The striker swiftly transferring the ball to Effiong whose attempt at goal slammed into the goalkeeper’s chest.
Three minutes from half-time, Mitev supplied an inviting cross but Vignaroli’s shot brought a good save from Farrugia.
There was a sharp drop in the rate of scoring chances in the opening exchanges of the second period.
Yet when Zarate and Bello-Osagie combined again ten minutes in the second half, Qormi seized the lead.
The Chilean midfielder’s perfect-weighted pass fell on the Nigerian striker, who swivilled before firing a rising shot past Jeffrey Farrugia.
Nine minutes later, Mosta found themselves facing a two-goal deficit.
Another lethal counter-attack from Qormi saw Bello-Osagie jinking his way past a posse of Mosta players before crossing towards the far post where Effiong stood unmarked to skew the ball into the far corner of the net.
Effiong’s goal sparked torrential rain which swept across the Tedesco Stadium drenching the players until the end of the match. The slippery surface did not help Mosta who now had to put more emphasis on attack with their Championship Pool hopes in jeopardy.
Qormi could have sealed the issue 20 minutes from time when they mounted another swift break but Joseph Chetcuti’s shot was blocked by Farrugia.
Mosta may have got back in contention eight minutes from time, but Matthew Farrugia tipped Mitev’s effort over the crossbar.
Mosta did pull one back at the death. Mitev’s corner from the right triggered a goalmouth melee as substitute David Maia dos Santos buried the ball home.
But it was too little too late.
M. Farrugia-6, K. Thackray-7, R. Sammut-6, A. Effiong-7 (83 L. Grech), J. Chetcuti-6 (73 D. Pisani), A. Bello-Osagie-6.5 (79 M. Avila Perez-), L. Sciberras-5.5, M. Gauci-5, E. Bilboa Zarate-7, J. Bondin-6, S. Wellman-6.
J. Farrugia-5, T. Farrugia-5, B. Agius-5 (66 G. Sammut-4), M. Micallef-5, S. Chiemeka-5 (62 D. Maia dos Santos-5), R. Grech-6.5, J. Bajada-6, D. Mitev-6, K. Magro-5, C. Campagnoli-6.5, F. Vignaroli-6.
Referee: Alan Mario Sant.
Yellow cards: Gauci; Grech.
BOV player of the match: Alfred Effiong (Qormi).