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Busuttil takes charge of Pietà Hotspurs

Carmel Busuttil has landed his first coaching job at the top level of Maltese football after agreeing to take over at Pietà Hotspurs.

Busuttil, 42, fills the void left by Italian coach Davide Vittorio who was sacked last month after failing to lead the team to one victory in his eight matches in charge.

"This is a new challenge for me but one which I'm looking forward to," Busuttil told The Times yesterday.

"After my spell with Division Three club Santa Lucija last season, I feel more prepared to cope with the demands of leading a top-flight club."

Widely considered as one of the best players in Maltese football thanks to his rich contribution in his 113 matches for the national team and his spells with Rabat Ajax, Genk and Sliema Wanderers, Busuttil faces a tough task to make an immediate impact in the first high-profile job of his coaching career.

Pietà are bottom of the Premier League table, level on two points with Marsa. St George's are one point ahead of the bottom duo but Floriana, the next team in the classification, have 10 points.

Although Busuttil knows that Pietà's chances of forcing their way into the Championship Pool are remote, he is ultra-positive about their hopes of avoiding relegation.

"Pietà have been through some difficult times and although the team's position in the table can only be described as precarious, I believe that with the quality of the players in the squad, we will retain our Premier League status."

In view of the close ties between Busuttil and Edward Schembri, the president of Pietà, the former Malta skipper was always regarded among the leading candidates to succeed Vittorio but his appointment took longer than expected to materialise.

Initially, Schembri sought to use his excellent contacts overseas to try and engage the services of another Italian coach and leave Busuttil to concentrate exclusively on his job with the Buzu Football School.

Francesco Moriero, the former Inter and Roma striker who also represented Italy at international level, had reportedly expressed an interest in becoming coach of Pietà but the 37-year-old has now accepted an offer to coach in Africa.

Busuttil, who spent one year as assistant to then national coach Horst Heese in 2004-2005, met the Pietà players yesterday at the club. He will take charge of training for the first time this evening.

Pietà's next match will be on December 2 when they face Floriana in a league match.

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