surinenglish

New kit, new captains and new optimism as Malaga prepare for season opener

Adrián and Ricca make the offering to the Divina Pastora.
Adrián and Ricca make the offering to the Divina Pastora. / S. Salas
  • "Our objective is achieved; we are ready to compete," said coach Juan Ramón Muñiz ahead of Saturday's clash in Lugo

The long summer is over, as far as the football is concerned, and Malaga return to league action on Saturday as they head to Galicia to take on Lugo.

Speaking ahead of the clash at the unveiling of the club's new home kit on Thursday, head coach Juan Ramón Muñiz came out fighting, saying that his new-look side would "defend the badge" but wouldn't take the club's status for granted: "In Segunda, winning three games gets you nothing. Nor does the shirt nor your CV."

Muñiz considered the pre-season campaign to have been "positive", given that "we all know each other well and know that we need to work hard and compete".

"The most important thing is that we have a good team both on and off the pitch because the results are a product of the hard work that everyone is doing. Our most important objective has been achieved: the team is ready for the first game."

The recently-appointed Malaga coach says he has "more or less" his line-up settled for the season opener in Lugo on Saturday (kick-off 7.30pm): "I have one advantage: I can choose any player as they all know what we want to do. I don't just have 11 players, I have 24."

The armband

Over the summer, many will have noticed that the club's captains from last year, José Recio, Roberto Rosales and Miguel Torres were not given the armband during any of the pre-season games. The club has since confirmed that they have been relieved of their duties and replaced by Federico Ricca, Adrián and Mehdi Lacen, respectively.

The trio led the traditional floral offering to the Divina Pastora, thepatron saint of sport on Wednesday, but the manager has played down the importance of the armband: "After a long and somewhat traumatic season, being a captain can be something of a burden. Personally, I don't give it much importance."

However, behind the scenes, it is believed that a lack of leadership was one of the main factors behind relegation last year and Muñiz sees Ricca, Adrián and Lacen as ideal candidates given that they have rejected offers to go elsewhere this summer and have committed to the cause.

A new kit

When Ricca leads his team out on Saturday, he will do so wearing the new strip that was unveiled on Thursday. Once again, blue dominates with very few appreciable differences to last season's kit, besides the detailing on the collar, and the inclusion of 'Te quiero Malaga' (I love you Malaga) on the back.

The stand-out element is the return of sponsor Tesesa - a doors and furnishings company based in Malaga. The company was the official shirt sponsor during the 2007/08 season when Malaga last won promotion to La Liga.

The shirt can be reserved online, but will not be available in official stores until 23 August.