Alessandro “Punisher” Ebejer, player for Lija Athletic FC has been crowned as Group B Pepsi Player of the Week. He ended up winning his group, taking down some of the best players at the event. Here’s how it all went down:
Group B - Match Briefing
Alessandro kicked off the group stage with a huge upset against Shaun “Brandsha” Galea, player for Hamrun Spartans FC. Both players found it very challenging to score against each other, and the first leg ended 0-0. In the second leg however, Alessandro played more aggressively and scored twice in the initial stages of the game. Hamrun managed to score one as a reply, but in the end it was not enough.
This win placed Lija Athletic FC into the winners final against Lawfu, player for Birkirkara FC. In the first leg, Alessandro Ebejer came out on top with a 1-0 lead. This was extremely advantageous for him heading into the second leg. Here, Alessandro started by scoring a goal before half-time, in which Lawfu replied with a goal of his own to tie it all. Then, at the 50th minute, Lija Athletic sealed it all with an additional goal, totalling the aggregate up to 3-1. Here are some of his thoughts after his win:
With the group stage concluded, it was time for Alessandro to test his abilities in the knockout stage. His first opponent was Group A 4th placer Mizu. In the first leg, we saw a dominant performance out of Floriana as they took the first game with a 2-0 win. In the next game, Alessandro knew he had to play better, and for this, he scored two goals to tie the aggregate. However, Mizu did not stop scoring. The end result was 2-2 in the second leg, totalling a 4-2 with aggregate. This loss for Lija Athletic eliminated the team and Alessandro Ebejer’s journey in the BOV ePremier League.
Can you start by telling us something about you and for how long have you been playing FIFA competitively?
I am 22 years of age and I live in Siggiewi. I have been playing FIFA competitively since the start of this year.
What were your expectations when starting the competition and did you achieve or not?
My initial expectations heading into the tournament were to achieve 3rd place in the group stage at least. I wasn’t too hopeful of placing 1st as I had one of the hardest groups, matching up against Brandsha, Luke and Lawfu. After winning the group I didn't expect to be eliminated in the first knockout.
You showed dominance and surprised everyone in your group stage matches can you explain to us what happened?
I think matching up against Brandsha in my first game helped and boosted my confidence, as I managed to get a draw in the first leg, and then win the second.
After your group stage performance, everyone was expecting you to see you in the Quarter Finals and maybe even in the Semi-Finals. Can you tell us what happened against Mizu?
To be honest, I felt a bit of pressure when playing on a stage as we played the group stages from home, and Mizu has been there last year as well. He managed to counter my formation as he heard that I have been playing with 5 players at the back. This made it very hard for me so I had to adjust against him.
Would you have done anything different that might have helped you in progressing further in the competition?
Yes, I should’ve had a second plan against Mizu. I should have played more with an attacking and pressing formation as when I pressed him he made some mistakes. This was shown clearly in the second leg.
Were you surprised that you won the Pepsi Player of the Week?
After winning the group, I was not surprised that I had won player of the week. I personally think it was well deserved, as I managed to beat one of Malta's best players.
What was the feedback you got from your friends and supporters after this year’s edition?
They were surprised that I managed to finish first in my group, and with those performances, they thought that I was going to advance a lot in this tournament. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be.
Any final comments?
I really liked this competition overall, it was my first time playing on a stage and I really enjoyed the experience overall. I hope that I can be there next year.
This year’s BOV ePremier League has certainly delivered in terms of game outcomes. We’ve seen multiple upsets and interesting storylines, but unfortunately, it does not end well for some. It was a valiant effort from Alessandro, and we hope to see him in next year’s edition.