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Birkirkara unveil Oba

Rufin Oba, wearing the Stripes` colours, poses for a picture with club chairman Victor Zammit (second from left), coach Stephen Azzopardi (second from right) and officials Charles Micallef (left) and John Borg.

Rufin Oba, wearing the Stripes` colours, poses for a picture with club chairman Victor Zammit (second from left), coach Stephen Azzopardi (second from right) and officials Charles Micallef (left) and John Borg.

Rufin Oba has put an end to speculation about his future when he was officially unveiled as a Bir-kirkara player at the company headquarters of club chairman Victor Zammit in Corradino yesterday.

The 26-year-old midfielder, one of the most-talked-about players in the local transfer market, has signed on for the Stripes until the rest of this campaign with an option of extending his contract at the end of the season.

"I returned to Malta to play for Birkirkara. There is no doubt that with Birkirkara I have a good chance of winning some honour here," Oba, who was first brought to Malta by Floriana a few years ago, said.

Floriana were still hopeful that Oba would rejoin their ranks if he returned to Malta but it turns out that theirs was misplaced optimism. Oba confirmed that a former Floriana official had contacted him in Belgium but insisted that his mind was always set on joining the Stripes.

Birkirkara finally secured his signature after a club delegation, led by Charles Micallef and Joe Zammit, travelled to Belgium and Paris to finalise negotiations with Oba and his agent last week.

In Belgium, Oba had a short stint with KVK Beringen but had his contract terminated as the club was encountering financial difficulties.

Oba said he has been training on his own to maintain his fitness over the last few weeks and believes he is prepared to start playing straightaway.

"I only need a couple of days and then I'll be ready to play," Oba said.

"I am eager to get going. I want to do well in the next 11 games to help my new team win the league. Playing for a good side like Birkirkara should bring the best out of me," Oba said.

Zammit, the Birkirkara FC chairman, was obviously delighted to have captured one of his main transfer targets.

"We have been trying to sign Oba for two months. This acquisition bolsters our midfield immeasurably.

"The transfer of Oba and Luke Dimech, our other new signing, and the return to fitness of Antoine Zahra and Michael Spiteri, should make our squad one of the best in the Premier League," Zammit said.

Stephen Azzopardi, the Bir-kirkara coach, shared his chairman's view that the club now boasts a very strong squad.

"Defence and midfield were the two main departments that needed strengthening. The arrival of Oba and Dimech, two top-quality players whom we know will get on well with the rest of the squad, make us stronger.

"Our second place in the league speaks volumes of Birkirkara's potential this season as the team has maintained its positive run notwithstanding injuries.

"While we are very happy to have engaged the services of two such high-profile players like Oba and Dimech, they also have to show that they deserve to be playing for a team challenging for the honours," Azzopardi said.

Meanwhile, Etienne Barbara, the former Floriana midfielder, on Sunday completed his move to Marsaxlokk after he signed a two-year contract.

Mosta-Marsa on Thursday

The Premier League match between Mosta and Marsa, postponed from last Sunday due to rain, will now be played on Thursday at 6.30 p.m. at the Centenary Stadium.

Tomorrow, the Centenary Stadium will also host the two Division One matches called off on Sunday.

Mqabba-Msida will kick off at 6 p.m., followed by the game between Senglea and St Patrick at 8 p.m.

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