Sunday could be a historic day for Malaga Femenino as a win or a draw against Femarguín could seal their promotion to the first division. The squad, after a week's break (because they are part of a three-team mini league fighting for one promotion spot) now has an opportunity to put the cherry on top of what has been a fantastic season.
It will not be easy, though. Their opponents could still achieve promotion themselves and a win would give them every chance of reaching a long-held objective for a number of teams in what has been a very competitive second tier.
For their part, Malaga made a number of strategic signings in winter with an eye on this play-off phase, having already run away with their league group. One of the new faces was Siobhan 'Shiv' Marie Wilson, who arrived from Georgia State University in the US university league. “The atmosphere in the dressing room is fantastic. We have a lot of confidence and we are training very hard. It's now down to the last two games to achieve our goal for the season - promotion,” said the full-back who is now a mainstay in the side, having taken her first steps in football with Tottenham Ladies.
She then moved to America, representing Hutchinson Community College (where she was named best wide player of the year), Clayton State University (where she won the award again) and Georgia State University.
“I was playing in America but when the offer to join Malaga came in, it was a no-brainer,” said Shiv, who also said that Mery was a deciding factor in the move. “We [Shiv and Mery] used to play together in the US and she has helped me a lot with adapting. Since I joined the team halfway through the season, things have moved on quite well for me on a personal level. What's more, the team is having a good year and we are very close to our target,” she said.
Things were not all rosy during her first few weeks at the club as Shiv's grasp of Spanish was not the best. “The beginning was very difficult because of the language but, after five months in the city, things are a lot easier and I understand Spanish a bit better now,” she said, adding: “I love Malaga and the weather; it's better than in England where it rains every day.”
The switch from the USA to Spain was not only difficult on a personal level, but also on the pitch where Shiv had to make some adaptations to her style of play: “In both the US and in England, the two countries where I've played, football is much more physical than tactical. In Spain, tactics come first and I prefer it that way.
“The last time I played in England I was 18. There they let fouls go but here the referee always blows for them. That is something I am getting used to little by little.”
The big game
With Sunday in mind, Shiv didn't want to tempt fate too much, though she did stress the potential in the squad. “If we win or draw in Fermarguín we'll be in the first division. We know that it is going to be a very difficult game, but we're prepared. The coach has a thorough strategy prepared for the game,” she said.
The English defender also wanted to highlight the support of the travelling fans so far: “The 'malaguistas' that travelled to Alicante were incredible. They made a lot more noise than the SPA supporters,” she said.