Malta Football Association
NEWS:
Top-four clashes add spice to final first-round fixtures
Dec 8, 2017
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BOV Premier League

The top-four clashes, Gżira United-Valletta and Balzan-Hibs, headline the final seven-match programme of the 2017-18 BOV Premier League this weekend.
 


Gżira United’s storming start to the season had seen them lead the Premier League in the first two months of the season with Valletta trailing just behind them.

 

The situation changed in recent weeks as Valletta and Balzan moved three points clear of Gżira who have lost some of their early-season swagger.

 

After 12 games, Valletta are sharing first place with Balzan on 27 points after maintaining their title charge with a 1-0 win over derby rivals Floriana. The derby attracted the largest crowd to the National Stadium so far this season.

 

For their part, Gżira United are coming from back-to-back defeats, a 2-1 loss to neighbours Sliema Wanderers and a 1-0 extra-time defeat to Ħamrun Spartans in the BOOST Diesel FA Trophy.

 

Defender Clifford Gatt Baldacchino is out for the Maroons as he is suspended after collecting four yellow cards.
Valletta signed Albert Prosa but the Estonia forward will only be eligible to play for huis new club in January.

 

BALZAN-HIBS


Another top clash is that between Balzan and Hibernians, two teams that are also separated by three points.
Balzan scraped past Senglea Athletic in their last league outing, winning it with a solitary goal from Bojan Kaljevic. The Montenegrin forward has scored 11 goals so far and is second in the top scorers’ chart behind Gżira’s Amadou Samb.

 

Hibernians, on the other hand, are coming from a 3-0 derby win over Tarxien Rainbows. For the Balzan game, Mark Miller will have to make do without defender Andrei Agius, suspended, but welcomes back Rui Da Gracia Gomes who missed the derby.

 

Scoring against Hibernians will be a rather daunting task for Balzan as the champions have only conceded six goals. On the other hand, Hibernians also have a tough job to contain the Balzan’s attacking prowess.
 

 

ĦAMRUN-BIRKIRKARA


Ħamrun Spartans face Birkirkara at the National Stadium on Saturday.

 

Both teams will be going all out to take maximum points and improve their position in the standings.

 

Ħamrun Spartans’ 5-1 win over minnows Lija Athletic coupled with their FA Trophy success over Gżira has boosted their optimism but Birkirkara will be tough opponents.

 

Spartans coach Jacques Scerri can’t rely on striker Lydon Micallef who is suspended but Felipe De Castro returns after serving a one-match ban.

 

Birkirkara will be looking to kickstart their season after losing against all the top-six teams this season. They lie eighth in the table with 16 points but are coming from a win over St Andrews. Coach Paul Zammit welcomes back Lucas Maia Verone and Kurt Zammit from suspension.

 

GREENS UNDER PRESSURE


In other games, Floriana, now under the guidance of Nicolas Chiesa, face Lija Athletic.

 

The Greens are under pressure to get their season back on track after losing 1-0 to rivals Valletta and crashing out of the FA Trophy at the hands of Naxxar Lions.

 

Abubaker Bello Osagie is out for Lija whose coach Joseph Galea will have to watch the match from the stands as he is serving the second of a two-match touchline ban.

 

In the bottom half, beleaguered Tarxien Rainbows play St Andrews with the latter having to make do without Ricardo Martin.

 

Mosta, who will be without Ekani Rodriguez and Kurt Magro, play against Sliema Wanderers on Friday afternoon. The Wanderers welcome back Stefano Biancardi and Jefferson De Assis Estacio who missed the derby win against Gżira United.

 

On Saturday, Senglea Athletic face Naxxar Lions in a match both teams will be striving to win to climb up the table.

 

Senglea coach Paolo Favaretto is likely to shuffle his pack as he welcomes back Antonio Terracciano and Hubert Vella.

 

On a high after two wins on the trot, Naxxar will be hoping to maintain their run against Senglea. Naxxar goalkeeper Christoph Nicht will miss out as he is yet to complete a two-match ban.
 

More BOV Premier League features on www.takeaseat.org.mt

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