Malta Football Association
NEWS:
Hibs, Balzan out to keep title bid on track
Apr 28, 2017
Posted in:
General
Leagues
BOV Premier League
Photo: Joe Borg/MFA
Photo: Joe Borg/MFA

  • Photo: Joe Borg/MFA
  • Photo: Paul Zammit Cutajar/MFA
  • Photo: Joe Borg/MFA
  • Photo: Christine Borg

The race for the 2016/17 BOV Premier League title is likely to go down to the wire after all. Leaders Hibernians’ 2-0 defeat at the hands of a resurgent Birkirkara last Sunday and Balzan’s 3-0 victory over Tarxien has reignited the championship race. With two matches left for each team to complete their league commitments, Balzan have closed the gap on the Paolites from five to two points.
 


In the circumstances, and given the up-and-down results involving the leading pack in the past weeks, anything can happen.

 

Local followers of the game, aside of the Hibernians and Balzan supporters, will be watching with bathed breath the final dash for the finish line.

 

The weekend’s penultimate matches for the Paolites and Balzan are against St Andrews on Sunday at 4pm and Ħamrun Spartans on Saturday at 6pm.

 

Hibernians have no suspension problems but St Andrews are missing Slovenian striker Ziga Kastrevec who was handed a one-match ban in midweek.

 

The Saints go into their clash with the Paolites with a positive mindset after their 3-1 victory over Valletta last weekend.

 

Balzan must cope without Brazilian stalwart Alan Da Silva Souza, suspended, while the Spartans, without a win in their last 12 games, will be without Karl Micallef who must serve a one-match following his red card in the 2-1 defeat to Pembroke.

 

Both Hibs and Balzan are aware that any loss of points would be detrimental to their chances of landing the league title.

 

The onus is on the players to avoid any slips at this stage and then preserve their mental and physical energies for a final fling to reach the promised land.

 

Both teams’ supporters will, no doubt, turn up at the National Stadium to give wholehearted support to their favourites as the scene is set for two intriguing clashes.

 

The battle for third place between Birkirkara and Valletta is also wide open, with the former being only one point adrift of the City team who are on the 59-mark.

 

The Stripes, who face Gżira on Sunday at 6pm at the National Stadium, have two important players missing as Miguel Angel Alba and Srdjan Dimitrov are both suspended.

 

CITY UNDER PRESSURE

Valletta play Tarxien a day before at 4pm at the same venue.

 

No doubt, the Whites will be striving to bounce back from their disappointing defeat to St Andrews and maintain their hold on third place.

 

For their part, Tarxien have little to play for as they lie in mid-table but with the FA Trophy semi-finals around the corner, the Blues will be looking to regain their form in their final two league outings.

 

GREENS, BLUES PREPARE FOR SEMIS

Also on Saturday but at the Hibernians Stadium, Floriana and Sliema Wanderers cross swords with the bottom teams, Mosta and Pembroke respectively.

 

The Greens, now out of the race for a top-three finish but with an FA Trophy semi-final to look forward to, have Argentine Sebastian Nayar suspended while Mosta will be without Pedrinho, also suspended.

 

Sliema, who drew 1-1 with Mosta in their last outing, must make do without Brazilian Denni, suspended, while Pembroke, engaged in a fierce duel with Mosta to avoid bottom spot, can’t rely on Darren Falzon.

 

The Wanderers are also likely to view their final two matches as useful tests to fine-tune their form ahead of the cup sem-finals next month.

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