Malta Football Association
Top-flight teams out to begin 2018 on high note
Jan 5, 2018
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BOV Premier League

The 2017-18 BOV Premier League roars back into action this weekend after the festive period with seven matches being played between Friday and Sunday.

High-flying Gżira United and Birkirkara will set the ball rolling when the two meet at the Centenary Stadium on Friday (kick-off 7pm).


Both teams will be looking to continue where they left off at the end of last year as Gżira United stayed in the title mix with a 3-2 victory over Lija Athletic while Birkirkara maintained their resurgence with a 2-0 win over Floriana.


Birkirkara coach Paul Zammit is expected to have three new foreigners in his squad, Macedonian goalkeeper Christian Naumovski, Brazilian defender Fernando Barbosa and Serbian playmaker Srdjan Dimitrov with the latter rejoining the club he played for last season.


Cain Attard and Nikola Vukanac are suspended for the Stripes.


Gżira United are level with Valletta in second place on 30 points, one behind leaders Balzan, and eight points above Birkirkara.


Darren Abdilla, the Gżira United coach, has confirmed that Nigerian striker Haruna Garba will be in the squad for the match against Birkirkara. Garba, who had a successful spell with Ħamrun Spartans in recent years, has joined Gżira on loan from Swedish club Djurgårdens until the end of the season.


Abdilla can’t rely on Roderick Briffa and Amadou Samb who must serve a one-match ban.



Having concluded 2017 as the leaders of the BOV Premier League, Balzan will fancy their chances of starting 2018 in winning vein as they face St Andrews at the Centenary Stadium on Saturday.


Balzan are expected to have new signing Siraj Arab in their squad for their match against the Saints who caused a surprise in their last outing after beating Hibs 2-1.


Kemmu Jackson is out for St Andrews as he must serve a one-match ban.



The second match at the Centenary Stadium on Saturday sees Sliema Wanderers take on Naxxar Lions with the latter very active in the opening stages of the January transfer window.


The Lions have changed their foreigners, releasing Adrian Cascaval, Scott Fenwick, Mendy Arnaud and Go Nagaoka.


They have been replaced by Brazilians Souza Duarte Junior, Santos Henriques Rafael, Jean Diego Moser and Leandro Da Costa Rodrigo who will all be available for Saturday’s game against the Blues.


Also on Saturday, there are two matches at the Hibernians Stadium with bottom side Lija Athletic facing Mosta in the opening fixture.


Lija will be without the suspended Daniel Scerri.



In Saturday’s second match at the Hibs Stadium, title contenders Valletta take on Senglea Athletic, a game that will mark Danilo Doncic’s debut as coach of Valletta.


Doncic will be expected to hit the ground running as Valletta will be aiming to step up their title challenge. They are currently second, level with Gżira on 30 points.


The Citizens have been one of the busiest clubs in the transfer window as they have completed the signings of Estonian striker Albert Prosa and Manuel Enmy Pena Beltre, the highly-rated right-back who spent the first half of the season with St Andrews.


Argentinian forward Miguel Alba has also agreed a move to Valletta but he’s not available for Saturday’s clash.


Senglea Athletic are proving a hard nut to crack on their return to the BOV Premier League. They finished 2017 on a flying note after following up their 2-1 victory over Naxxar Lions with a 3-0 success over the more-quoted Sliema Wanderers.


This week, Senglea signed winger Jurgen Suda on loan from Valletta. Coach Paolo Favaretto must make do without Randall Vella, suspended.




The first BOV Premier League programme for 2018 concludes on Sunday with two matches at the National Stadium.


In the opening match at 2pm, Floriana meet Tarxien Rainbows.


The Greens will be going all out to make amends for their 2-0 defeat to Birkirkara in their last league outing but Tarxien also need the points to boost their fight against relegation.


Argentine forward Sebastian Nayar is expected to be included in Floriana’s squad after rejoining the Premier League club.


Defender Luke Grech is suspended for the Rainbows.



The last fixture of the weekend pits champions Hibernians against Ħamrun Spartans with only one point separating the two sides.


The Paolites will be hellbent on kickstarting their season after going down 2-1 to St Andrews in their league match of 2017.


They have moved to boost their firepower after re-signing Brazilian Jorginho, who has returned following a spell in Saudi Arabia, and Portuguese winger Joao Moreiro.


On the negative side, captain Clayton Failla and Johann Bezzina are suspended for Hibs.


Ħamrun Spartans have shown progress this season under the guidance of coach Jacques Scerri but are struggling for consistency.


They will be looking at their match against the champions as an opportunity to re-ignite their bid for a top-four position.



Centenary Stadium: 19.00 Birkirkara vs Gżira United.


Centenary Stadium: 14:00 Balzan vs St Andrews; 16:15 Sliema Wanderers vs Naxxar Lions.
Hibernians Stadium: 14.00 Lija Athletic vs Mosta; 16:00 Valletta vs Senglea Athletic.


National Stadium: 14.00 Tarxien Rainbows vs Floriana; 16:00 Hibernians vs Ħamrun Spartans.

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