Malta Football Association
Battle for supremacy at the top continues
Mar 3, 2017
Posted in:
BOV Premier League

The third and final round of the BOV Premier League resumes this weekend with a programme of six matches, four to be played on Saturday and the other two on Sunday. The battle for supremacy in all segments of the table continues unabated. Not the least in the top echelons where Balzan are heading the current rankings with 48 points, one more than Hibernians and four above Valletta. Floriana are next with 42 points.

It is an intruiging situation, with no side affording to budge an inch in a bid to have a say for the title in the final run-in during the first week in May.


Given a spate of unexpected results when the lower-ranked teams raked points off their more quoted opponents, it will be consistency in the final reckoning which should help the best team land the championhsip honours. 


The same can be said of the lower end of the table which has St Andrew’s one point above Gżira Unied, with 23 and 22 respectively, and Mosta on 16 points, two lengths in front of Pembroke. 


Birkirkara are clear of the mid-table batch with 38 points, seven more than Sliema Wanderers who in turn have collected two and four points more than Tarxien Rainbows and Hamrun Spartans respectively.


Floriana will have to be at their best to collect maximum spoils against St Andrew’s at the Hibernians Stadium on Saturday at 2pm.


Alex Cini returns from suspension for the Greens after serving his one-match ban in the 2-0 victory over Pembroke Athleta.


St Andrews, who figured in a commendable 2-2 draw against Birkirkara last weekend, will be without speedy wing-back Enmy Manuel Pena Beltre who was handed a two-match ban after being sent off for retaliation against the Stripes.


Felix Okon is back in contention for a first-team place at St Andrews after suspension kept him out of the draw against Birkirkara.


The match between Floriana and St Andrews will be followed by the Tarxien Rainbows-Birkirkara clash which should see both sides trying to return to winning ways.


Midfielder Ryan Scicluna will miss out for Birkirkara, suspended, while Tarxien will be without their powerful winger Alex Alves who received a one-match ban following his sending-off in the 1-0 defeat to Gżira United.


On the positive side, Joseph Zerafa and Christian Bubalovic are expected to return for Birkirkara while Tarxien are boosted by the return of Matthew Tabone.


Ħamrun Spartans and Gżira United will be keen to retain their recent satisfactory results against Hibernians and Tarxien respectively.


Gżira United must cope without captain Moises Avila Perez, suspended, but Brazilian defender Tony is available after serving suspension.


The Spartans, whose draw against Hibernians halted a disappointing run of four consecutive defeats in league and cup, have no suspended players.


The match kicks off at 2pm at the National Stadium.


Sliema must up their game and find some consistency after their umpteenth defeat at the hands of Valletta last week.


The Blues meet Hibernians on Saturday at the National Stadium (4pm) in arguably the match of the weekend.


John Buttigieg, the Sliema coach, has lost Brazilian livewire Denni to suspension but welcomes back Riccardo Correa.


For their part, Hibernians cannot afford to lose touch with leaders Balzan. Defender Andrei Agius returns from suspension for the Paolites.


Balzan are due to play Pembroke at 2pm on Sunday, with the top-placed team in the table looking good enough to beat the bottom team.


Midfielder Ryan Fenech will have to sit out the match against Pembroke after collecting his fourth yellow card in the 7-1 drubbing of Mosta but coach Oliver Spiteri’s midfield options are strengthened by the return of Paul Fenech.


The beleaguered Pembroke can’t field their best formation as they have no fewer than three players suspended. Owen Bugeja and Brooke Farrugia were given a one-match after last weekend’s loss to Floriana while Italian defender Andrea Scozzese has yet to see out the two-match ban he incurred following his dismissal in the FA Trophy defeat to SK Victoria Wanderers.


In the last match of the weekend, on Sunday at the National Stadium (kick-off 4pm), Valletta take on Mosta.


The champions start as favourites to gain the spoils and keep breathing down the necks of the leading tandem. Coach Paul Zammit can’t bank on defender Steve Borg, suspended.

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