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Marsaxlokk hand Farrugia key technical role

Sciriha says Marinov's contract will be respected

Motivator... Ray Farrugia giving instructions to young players attending his school.

Motivator... Ray Farrugia giving instructions to young players attending his school.

Ray 'Zazu' Farrugia is making a return to club management with Marsaxlokk FC.

The ambitious Premier League club, undoubtedly one of the wealthiest in Maltese football, yesterday confirmed they had reached agreement with Farrugia to become head of their technical staff.

"Marsaxlokk have successfully concluded discussions with Farrugia and the directors of the Zazu Football School over the appointment of Farrugia as head of the technical sector of our club," Victor Sciriha, the club's honorary president, said.

"We are confident that Farrugia's arrival will provide a new stimulus for our squad in our on-going bid to establish Marsaxlokk FC as one of the top clubs in Malta."

Sciriha made it clear that Marsaxlokk intend to fulfil their contractual obligations with Atanas Marinov, their current coach, and that they expect him to work hand-in-hand with Farrugia.

"Marinov has a valid contract with Marsaxlokk until the end of the season and our intention is to honour that agreement," Sciriha said.

It remains to be seen whether Marinov will continue in his job in view of the club's engagement of Farrugia. The Bulgarian is believed to be considering his position.

Sciriha, the man credited with masterminding Marsaxlokk's rise from the lower echelons to the top flight of Maltese football, believes that Farrugia is the right person to inspire their talented squad to new heights.

"Farrugia's excellent experience with the Malta U-21 team and the fact that he already knows most of our players was the one main factor that made him our preferred candidate for this role."

Considered as one of the brightest Maltese coaches, Farrugia has not been involved in top-level coaching since he was relieved of his duties as coach of Pietà Hotspurs at the end of season 2003-2004.

During Farrugia's spell, the Hotspurs finished fifth in the Premier League for two years in succession.

For the past 15 months, Farrugia has channelled all his energies to guiding young players and earlier this year, he joined forces with a group of local football administrators to set up the Zazu Football School.

Marsaxlokk's successful swoop for Farrugia, who had been linked with a string of coaching jobs in the last year-and-half including that of national coach after Siegfried Held's departure, represents their latest attempt to get the best out of their expensively-assembled squad following their unconvincing start to the Premier League season.

Farrugia told The Times that he had thought long and hard about the demands of his new post with Marsaxlokk before accepting their overtures.

"My decision to accept Mr Sciriha's interesting offer to take over the technical department at Marsaxlokk was made after a thorough evaluation of the demands this job entails as well as my commitments to the Zazu Football School," he said.

Unenviable task

"My role at Marsaxlokk will not interfere in any way with my duties to the school and that was the main reason why I agreed to take up this position.

"The matter has been discussed at board level and it was the school's directors who issued the go-ahead for me to take up this post."

At Marsaxlokk, Farrugia will have the unenviable task of transforming a talented squad into genuine contenders for the main domestic honours.

The shaven-headed Farrugia is anything but intimidated by the challenge awaiting him.

"This appointment represents a new challenge, one that I am looking forward to with great enthusiasm," Farrugia added.

"I am taking this job with great humility but with bold intentions to do my best and help Marsaxlokk become a force to be reckoned with in Maltese football.

"I know it won't be easy because this squad has been virtually built in the last two years but Marsaxlokk have the most talented young Maltese players and some experienced professionals. As I see it, Marsaxlokk have what it takes to challenge the elite of Maltese football."

Farrugia's contract with Marsaxlokk will run until the end of the season. His link-up with the southseasiders reunites him with a host of players he worked with during his positive four-year spell as coach of the Malta U-21 team as well as during his later stint with Pietà Hotspurs.

Fourth in the Premier League standings with nine points from six matches, Marsaxlokk's next assignment is against champions and early pacesetters Sliema Wanderers tomorrow afternoon.

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