European Summer Nights
(Balzan FC vs FK Zeljeznicar)
‘’It’s Bacca again, he has surely won it for Seville now’’. 100 days have not passed yet from that magical night for the Spaniards and the 2015/2016 UEFA Europa League has already initiated for many European clubs, with a record 102 clubs in the 1st qualifying round. As most footballers hit the beaches to put their feet up after a long hard season, a small club coming from the island of Malta, Balzan FC, had to start their pre-season 2 weeks after securing their European spot in the Maltese Premier League. The small village will be one of the debutants in this year’s competition and their inaugural match won’t be an easy one as they face Bosnian powerhouse, FK Zeljeznicar.
26th April 2015 will remain engraved in Balzan FC’s history for ever as on that day they made sure of their European participation by beating the already-champions Hibernians FC 3-1. In addition to this, it was Hibernians’ first loss of the season, therefore it was double satisfaction for the small village. Having been promoted just 4 seasons before, Balzan FC made a lot of progress and in the top tier of Maltese Football, they finished twice 6th (from 12 teams) while last season they finished 4th, securing their European spot. All this success is due to the club’s owners who invest wisely prior to every season and fix the team precisely during every winter transfer session, case in point last January. Amongst their January signings, Bojan Kaljevic and Terence Agius looked like they were the missing pieces to cement Balzan’s status as one of the elite teams in Maltese Football. While the latter performed very well, confirming that he is one of the hottest Maltese prospects at the moment, the former scored a sensational 12 goals from 10 matches and joined by Gianmarco Piccioni’s 15 goals (his attacking partner), they put Balzan’s fans in dreamland. Moreover, Balzan is a club who shall be seen as a role-model by the other clubs as they invest a lot in Maltese talents which while being beneficial for them as they are home-grown players, it creates lot of options for the national team coach. Local talents such as Samir Arab, Lydon Micallef and Sean Cipriott are all the consequent result of wise investments in the transfer market or the production of their own talent.
With the biggest game of their history approaching, Balzan FC are more than prepared to live a European night as they have never done before. Obviously, considering that this is their debut while facing an experienced side, their fans won’t be expecting a lot from their boys, but they want their team to make sure of something; showing that European Football is not only about elite football, but also about passion and legacy.