Valletta and Ħamrun Spartans renew rivalry
Valletta and Ħamrun Spartans renew their rivalry on Sunday in what promises to be another intriguing weekend of BOV Premier League football. The clash between the Whites and the Spartans is not the only highlight of matchday 22 as Hibernians face resurgent neighbours Tarxien Rainbows on Saturday, Birkirkara meet fellow top-four candidates Floriana and the bottom four sides go head to head.
Now seven points adrift of leaders Balzan, Valletta are under pressure to get back into winning groove after their 1-1 draw against Tarxien Rainbows last weekend.
Ħamrun Spartans are also in urgent need of points after back-to-back defeats to Pembroke Athleta and Balzan left them in the bottom half of the standings ahead of the final programme of the second round.
Flank defender Karl Micallef is suspended for the Spartans who are still without Brazilian Jorge Mesque Neto, currently serving a three-match ban.
The duel between Hibernians and Tarxien Rainbows is also eagerly-anticipated.
The Paolites, two points off the top, are gunning for the league title while Tarxien are on a remarkable run of eight games without defeat.
Right-back Marcelo Dias is expected to return for Hibernians after missing the 2-1 defeat of St Andrews through suspension while Tarxien’s winger Alex Alves is also available after serving a one-match ban.
Buoyed by two wins on the spin, Birkirkara will be looking to maintain their upward charge but their task promises to be anything but easy as they will be up against Floriana with only one point separating the two sides.
In midweek, Birkirkara playmaker Srdjan Dimitrov was named BOV player of the month for January.
A 4-0 defeat of Mosta ended a run of three games without a win for Floriana who will be without midfielder Clyde Borg, suspended. On the plus side, Antonio Monticelli is back in contention after seeing out his one-match ban.
Leaders Balzan also face a tough test on Sunday as they square up to Sliema Wanderers who are having an up-and-down campaign.
Balzan coach Oliver Spiteri can’t bank on Dylan Grima as the versatile midfielder received a one-match ban following his dismissal in the 1-0 victory over Ħamrun.
Siema Wanderers, seventh in the standings, were involved in a 1-1 draw against Pembroke Athleta last weekend.
Midfielder Peter Xuereb returns for the Blues.
The other two games, both on Saturday at the Hibs Stadium, are direct clashes as Gżira United, third-from-bottom, meet St Andrews, six points above their impending opponents, while Pembroke and Mosta, the two teams occupying the last positions in the table, also lock horns.
Malian defender Souleymane Diamoute will be missing for Gżira, suspended, while St Andrews are beset by the absense of Karlo Kesinovic. On the positive side, captain Joseph Farrugia returns from ther suspension.
Mosta will be without Cameroonian winger Njongo Priso who starts a two-match ban but Kurt Magro, Adrian Caruana and Kyle Frendo are back after suspension kept them out of the defeat to Floriana.
14:00 Pembroke Athleta vs Mosta (Hibernians Stadium)
16:00 Gżira United vs St. Andrews (Hibernians Stadium)
14:00 Hibernians vs Tarxien Rainbows (National Stadium)
16:00 Birkirkara vs Floriana (National Stadium)
14:00 Balzan vs Sliema Wanderers (National Stadium)
16:00 Valletta vs Ħamrun Spartans (National Stadium)