Gianluca Sant, the representative for Zejtun Corinthians, has been chosen as the Player of the Week for Group C. He had quite a run in his group, finishing in 1st with an outstanding lead. Here’s how it all happened and why he’s been chosen as player of the Week.
Group C - Match Briefing
Gianluca started the group stage against Kyle Calleja, a player for Sirens FC. This was probably his best performance as he managed to score ten goals in two matches. This was a mind-blowing result, mainly because he didn’t concede a single goal! This win meant that Zejtun Corinthians advanced to the winner’s finals against Tarxien Rainbows player Ryan Cauchi.
Ryan was a much more formidable opponent overall, scoring at least one goal in both legs. Despite being a challenging obstacle, Gianluca still came out on top, scoring two goals in the first leg and three goals in the second. This meant that Gianluca won this series (5-2) and got the highest seed of Group C. Here’s a short recap of Zejtun Corinthians games if you missed out:
In the playoffs, Gianluca met against Sliema Wanderers player, Luke Bartolo. Luke didn’t have the best performance in the group stage as he finished 4th in Group B. Despite this, he was still determined to take down Zejtun Corinthians representative, Gianluca Sant. In the first leg, Gianluca took the lead by scoring a goal of his own. Due to his possession play style, Gian was playing very passive, and this resulted in Luke going for an aggressive strategy. This aided Luke in the first game as he scored three, totalling the first leg results to a 3-1. In the second game, Gianluca played less passively and it helped him score 2 goals, but unfortunately, it was in vain, as Luke won by an aggregate score of 5-3.
We asked Gianluca a couple of questions regarding his performance during the tournament.
Can you start by telling us something about you and for how long have you been playing FIFA competitively?
My name is Gianluca Sant, I’m 24 years old, and I live in Birkirkara. Before competing in FIFA, I used to play football. However, due to an ACL injury, I had to stop playing, and because football is my passion, I decided to play FIFA on console. I consider myself a very competitive person, and I hate losing. I started playing FIFA in 2002 with my dad, and after seeing a vast improvement, I started playing online. After getting some experience with online players, I realised I had the level to compete against some of the best players in the world. With the help of Christian Spiteri, whom I consider one of my best friends in the scene and outside the scene, he introduced me to FIFA esports in FIFA 17. My first LAN event in Malta was on FIFA 17, and then on FIFA 18, I started competing internationally.
What were your expectations when starting the competition and did you achieve or not?
When I go into a competition my expectations are always high. Heading into the BOV ePremier League my expectation was to get top 2, and then go for the trophy, but unfortunately that did not happen. As I said my expectations are always high so to get knocked out straight after I topped my group was very disappointing.
Are you disappointed with your performance against Luke?
Regarding my performance against Luke, when I watched the broadcast again I realised that when I went 1-0 up in the 1st leg I was playing too safe, and did not attack my opponent enough. As a result of this I conceded 3 goals instead of scoring 3 goals. In the 2nd leg I upped my tempo and switched formation to a 4-2-3-1 with attacking full backs and it worked because I tied the game and went 2-0 in the first 30 minutes of the 2nd leg. But unfortunately when 2 good players play each other only 1 winner has to emerge and unfortunately for me, Luke was the winner.
Would you have done anything different that might have helped you in progressing further in the competition?
If I get the chance to play Luke again, I would definitely attack him more to score more goals. If I'm up by 2 or 3 goals I’ll make him chase the game and as everyone knows, I am a possession player and it would be hard for the opponent to take the ball from me.
Were you surprised that you won the Pepsi Player of the Week for your group?
Honestly, I was not that surprised. Mainly because of the enormous fan base that the Zejtun Corinthians and I have. We tried our best to share it and advertise it, and eventually, I got the Player of the Week.
What was the feedback you got from your friends and supporters after your Group Stage Matches?
After I ended my group stage matches, many of my friends congratulated me and gave me support. Fans of the Zejtun Corinthians did not hesitate to message me either, as I’ve received multiple messages throughout the bracket. I am very thankful to everyone who messaged me and is a supporter of mine.
I would like to congratulate Luke for his performance and thank the Malta Football Association and GMR for hosting the BOV ePremier League. Every year they surprise me, they are always improving and the studio we played in was amazing. I'm not sure if I will compete again in the BOV ePremier League as for FIFA 22 I am switching to my main console which is Xbox.
What’s next for the Zejtun Corinthians?
It’s no secret that Gianluca is one of the toughest out there in the local FIFA scene. After a disappointing finish in last year’s edition, he was determined to win this year. Unfortunately, he was eliminated early in the playoffs, and again, an unfortunate ending to his BOV ePremier League journey. Hopefully, next year, if he decides to compete, he’ll have a longer stay during the final stages of the event.