Malta Football Association
NEWS:
Hibs, Balzan jostle for top spot in key clash
Mar 30, 2017
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Hibs assistant coach Josef Mansueto (left) and his Balzan counterpart Jean Paul Desira. Photos: Joe Borg/MFA
Hibs assistant coach Josef Mansueto (left) and his Balzan counterpart Jean Paul Desira. Photos: Joe Borg/MFA

  • Hibs assistant coach Josef Mansueto (left) and his Balzan counterpart Jean Paul Desira. Photos: Joe Borg/MFA

Hibernians and Balzan set the ball rolling on Super Sunday as the leading duo will be involved in a direct clash at the National Stadium (kick-off 4pm) that has the potential to define their season.


The Paolites find themselves in pole position after their 3-0 victory over Pembroke Athleta coupled with Balzan’s 1-0 loss to Valletta, before the international break, propelled them to the top on 56 points, two ahead of the Reds and three better than Valletta whom they meet on Wednesday.

 

In this context, Balzan have no margin for error as another defeat would leave them five points off the top.

 

Jean Paul Desira, the assistant coach of Balzan FC, said the players are eager to make up for their defeat to Valletta by taking the three points to return to the summit.

 

“It is a game we are looking at with interest also due to the fact that, with victory on Sunday, we would reclaim first place in the table,” Desira told a news conference at the National Stadium.

 

“After the debacle against Valletta, the players look motivated and determined to show their capabilities and regain what they had been working for throughout the season.”

 

Although Hibernians are leading the way with seven games left, assistant coach Josef Mansueto insisted that the Paolites will retain the match-by-match policy that has served them so well this season.

 

“For us, it’s also an important game. We have reached a phase of the championship where, every win or defeat, could give you a clear direction as to how this league is going to finish,” Mansueto said.

 

“A positive thing that we’ve had this season is that we’ve stuck to a game-by-game approach.

 

“At the end of the day, the objective of the club remains to build a team for the future but obviously we are now in a position where we are also challenging for the title, which is very healthy.

 

“However, it’s important that we prepare for this game as we did for the other matches and retain our match-by-match mindset.”

 

FENECH: CRUCIAL CLASH

Paul Fenech, the Balzan midfielder, described Sunday’s game as do-or-die.

 

“We know that this is a do-or-die match and as coach Josef Mansueto rightly pointed out, these kind of matches offer a direction where the league is heading for,” Fenech remarked.

 

“As players, we are looking at this match as a very important fixture. We will be doing our best to put the defeat against Valletta behind us.

 

“We are aware of the potential of Hibernians and will be going all out to give our 100 per cent.”

 

FAILLA: WE ARE READY

Clayton Failla, the Hibs captain, is eyeing ‘sporting’ revenge over Balzan who won the previous two encounters 2-0 and 2-1.

 

“One the factors of our season is that we’ve always maintained a game-by-game approach,” Failla said.

 

“Our foremost objective (at the start of the season) was to qualify for Europe, which is very important for the club.

 

“The target has not changed, even though we are on top. Now that we are up there, we are going to challenge for the main honour.

 

“As for the game against Balzan, it’s an important match. We know that Balzan have one of the strongest teams in the championship.

 

“We are ready for this game like we were for previous matches like Mosta and Pembroke.

 

“The time has also come to gain sporting revenge over Balzan as we haven’t won against them this season.”

 

Hibernians have no selection problems but Balzan must cope without Brazilian midfielder Francisco Anderson De Barros who received a one-match ban after his dismissal against Valletta.

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