Malta Football Association
BOV Premier League enters final stretch
Feb 23, 2017
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BOV Premier League

The third and last round of this season’s BOV Premier League gets underway on Friday and continues the following day with a full programme of six matches comprising the 12 top teams in the top division. In the plum fixture, Valletta will set their sights on extending their positive sequence against Sliema Wanderers, having defeated the Blues in the two previous rounds.

The champions, whose points’ tally is 41, will also look to keep within striking distance of the two front-runners, Hibernians, on 46 and Balzan on 45 points.


In their last outing before the break for the FA Trophy games, Valletta had the better of rivals Ħamrun Spartans to end their second-round commitments on a top note.


Sliema, on their part, will want to shake off their yo-yo form when putting up solid displays against opponents in the top half of the standings only to come a cropper when facing teams in the lower rungs of the table. Last weekend, the Blues advanced to the semi-finals of the FA Trophy after beating Senglea Athletics on penalties.


John Buttigieg, the Sliema Wanderers coach, must make do without Riccardo Correa, suspended.


The match, which starts at 8pm at the National Stadium, will be preceded by the Balzan-Mosta clash two hours earlier.


Coming from back-to-back defeats, against Sliema in the championship and Tarxien Rainbows in the FA Trophy quarter-finals, Balzan will be keen to make amends.


They have enough talent to return to a winning groove against Mosta who are bottom of the standings on the 13-point mark.


Midfielder Paul Fenech is out for Balzan as he must serve a one-match ban while Mosta will be without Brazilian playmaker Pedrinho, also suspended.


Gżira United have gained unexpected points against a couple of more-quoted teams but are still languishing in the 10th place with 19 points.


In Tarxien Rainbows, lying seventh on 29 points, the Maroons will certainly find dour opponents who have posed problems when playing most of the more fancied outfits. Besides, the Rainbows are a on a high after progressing to the FA Trophy semi-finals.


Both teams have a key player missing as Tarxien’s Matthew Tabone and Gżira defender Tony received a one-match ban after the latest round of BOV Premier League matches.


Floriana, nicely perched in fourth position in the table, two points adrift of Valletta, will fancy their chances of collecting maximum points against the penultime team, Pembroke, who are on 17 points.


Flank defender Alexander Cini is suspended for Floriana while Pembroke Athleta, who were knocked out of the FA Trophy after going down 2-0 to SK Victoria Wanderers, will be without Zoran Levnaic and Andrea Scozzese, both suspended.


The last two matches of the weekend card to be played at the National Stadium will be between fifth-placed Birkirkara (37 points) and St Andrews who are ninth on 22 points and the match between leaders Hibernians and the eighth team in the current rankings, Ħamrun Spartans who are on 26 points.


Birkirkara face an uphill struggle in the title race as their 2-1 defeat to Floriana left them nine points off the top.


For Saturday’s game, coach Nikola Jaros must cope without Joseph Zerafa and Christian Bubalovic, both out with a one-match ban.


St Andrews, now only three points ahead of Gżira, will be without Nigerian Felix Okon.


Hibernians, who closed their second-round schedule with a 1-0 win over derby rivals Tarxien, face a tricky fixture against the Spartans who will be going all out to reverse the trend after suffering a spate of defeats.


Mark Miller, the Hibernians coach, can’t rely on Andrei Agius as the Malta defender must serve a one-match ban.


For the Spartans, their 2-0 loss to Floriana in the FA Trophy was their fourth negative outcome in a row.

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