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Watch: Tedesco relishing Spartans challenge

Video: Matthew Mirabelli

Giovanni Tedesco is relishing the challenge of restoring Ħamrun Spartans among the elite of Maltese football as the Italian mentor was unveiled as the new coach of the Premier League side yesterday.

The former Floriana and Birkirkara coach was handed a return to Maltese football by the Spartans this summer after putting pent to paper on a two-year contract. He replaces Jacques Scerri who stepped down from his post at the end of last season.

“I am really grateful to president Nunzio Antignani and the Ħamrun committee for giving me this opportunity of coaching one of the most popular teams in Maltese football,” the former Palermo midfielder told a news conference yesterday.

“I’m approaching this challenge with a lot of enthusiasm and I am sure that with hard work and commitment we will be able to lead the team among the top sides in the country.

“I think that it’s too early to set any target for the upcoming season as it will not be fair on the club and our fans but we will try to finish as high as possible in the league standings. I hope that our passionate fans will be behind us as they can play a key part towards attaining success.”

The Spartans have so far brought in five players, namely goalkeeper Manuel Bartolo, defender Matthew Gauci, midfield duo Conor Borg and Antonio Monticelli, who worked with Tedesco at Floriana, and Italian striker Pietro Viggiani.

Italian attacking midfielder Marco Criaco is the only overseas player that has been retained from last season.

Tedesco refused to be drawn on his transfer targets but he said that he is happy to be able to bank on a crop of talented Maltese players that will be the spine of his team.

“I am really happy to be able to work with some of the most talented Maltese players,” Tedesco said.

“Goalkeeper Jake Galea, defender Daniel Zerafa and midfielder Triston Caruana are among the most talented Maltese players and will be the backbone of our team.

“Besides I’m delighted that Conor Borg has turned down the approach of big clubs like Valletta, Floriana and Balzan to come at Ħamrun following his stint with Serie A club Roma.

“In the coming weeks we will continue to strengthen our squad with four or five quality players to ensure that we arrive for the start of the season in a good condition.”

On his part, club president Nunzio Antignani said that he is pleased that Tedesco had accepted to take charge of the Spartans and he has no doubts that the Reds could enjoy a very positive season under the Italian mentor.

“For Ħamrun Spartans it’s a great honour to have a coach of the calibre of Giovanni Tedesco,” Antignani said.

“I’m sure that with his tactical nous and his hunger of success we will be able to enjoy a very positive season.”

Antignani also announced that the club have appointed Gaetano Farrugio as the club’s new team manager and have also signed a three-year contract with football agency Genova International Sports Management.

Prohibition

During the last few weeks, the Spartans have been in the headlines for the wrong reasons after it was revealed that they have been handed a prohibition on transfers from the Malta FA after failing to respect their contract obligation with players and their coaching staff.

But Antignani did not sound worried and said that the club were close to pay their dues and put their books in order.

“I don’t want to talk about the past, but that is something that can happen at a club and it happened to us,” Antignani said.

“However, during the last weeks we have worked hard to address this situation and I can tell you that we have paid 95 per cent of our dues. I’m confident that the situation will be coming back to normal in the near future.”

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