Malta Football Association
NEWS:
Valletta and Balzan on title mission on final matchday
Apr 20, 2018
Posted in:
General
Leagues
BOV Premier League

Who is going to win the title, Balzan or Valletta?


This is the question thousands of football enthusiasts in Malta have been asking throughout this week as Balzan and Valletta are heading into the final matchday of the 2017-18 BOV Premier League season level on 55 points.


Only a win will do for the two title rivals as Balzan face Hibernians at the Hibernians Stadium in their final match while Valletta take on third-placed Gżira United at the National Stadium, both matches kicking at 16.00.

 

The tight situation at the top means that a title decider will be needed if Balzan and Valletta match each other’s results on Saturday.

 

Balzan rejoined Valletta last weekend after beat Senglea Athletic 2-1 and the Whites dropped two points in a 1-1 draw against Floriana.

 

“We are aware of the weight and importance of tomorrow’s match against Hibernians,” Marko Micovic, the Balzan coach, told a pre-match press conference at the Trophies Lounge.

 

“The same goes for Hibernians. Over the past few weeks, Hibernians have raised their level of performance and put themselves in a position where, if other results go their way, they would finish fourth and possibly qualify for the Europa League.

 

“From our side, we are preparing for this game as we do for any other match but we know that the last game is crucial.

 

“We’re doing our best to get our players to the level we’ve been throughout this season. What is encouraging for us is that, if you look back at the so-called big games, we have always found the right motivation and haven’t lost against any of the big teams.”

 

Balzan, who returned to winning ways last weekend after their shock 3-1 defeat to Tarxien Rainbows, will be without influential Brazilian playmaker Kadu, suspended.

 

For his part, Mario Muscat, the Hibernians goalkeepers coach who represented the club at this press conference, said that he will be following updates from the games involving the other top-four contenders but insisted that the Paolites will be going all out to win against Balzan, regardless of events elsewhere.

 

“I’m going to follow events at other stadia but our aim is to give our best,” Muscat said.

 

“We are going to look at the result needed by our club and that’s what we will do. We will be giving our all to claim that fourth place which could mean qualification for the Europa League.”

 

Hibernians have no suspensions.

 

In the first round, Balzan beat Hibernians 1-0.

 

ALL-OUT APPROACH


Like Balzan, Valletta are under pressure to win when they meet Gżira United who last weekend secured third place.

 

A 1-1 draw against rivals Floriana dented Valletta’s hopes but they remain firmly in contention to win the title.

 

Valletta coach Danilo Doncic said: “This is a very important game for us. We missed the chance to win last week against Floriana. We will be going all out in attack to try and win the game.

 

“What happens in other grounds is something else, our aim is to win the three points… that’s the whole story.

 

“An entire season is now down to these final 90 minutes, so we have to go all out.”

 

Gżira’s morale is on a high after reaching their European target last week following their 2-1 victory over Sliema Wanderers.

 

Darren Abdilla, the Gżira United coach, is understandably delighted that his team have attained their objective but stressed that his team will be no pushovers in their game against Valletta.

 

“We are very satisfied with what we have done so far this season,” Abdilla said. “This target seemed impossible but we made it possible by staying consistent throughout the season.

 

“We have come to our last match. We are seven ahead of the fourth-placed team which is important for us as we have no pressure and the team can perform better.

 

“It is our duty to finish the season in the same manner as we started it. We will be looking to make it a double over Valletta, we know it’s not going to be easy as they are motivated to win the league but we will be no pushovers.”

 

Gżira will be without Sacha Borg and Ndubisi Okoye, both suspended.

 

The Maroons had the better of Valletta 2-1 in the first round.

 

FOURTH PLACE RACE


Also on Saturday, Birkirkara will be aiming to claim fourth spot when they meet Ħamrun Spartans at the Centenary Stadium (16.00).

 

A win for the Stripes would guarantee fourth place as they are one point ahead of Floriana and Hibs.

 

Coach Paul Zammit has three players suspended – Jake Grech, Carlos Alberto and Nick Borg but Mislav Andelkovic returns from suspension.

 

Birkirkara edged Ħamrun Spartans 1-0 in the first round.

 

Floriana will be looking to conclude their season on a high when they face relegated side Lija Athletic at the Tedesco Stadium.

 

The Greens, who hammered Lija Athletic 6-0 in the first round, have Jurgen Pisani and Maurizio Vella suspended.

 

RELEGATION ISSUE


The fight to avoid the drop will be in focus on Friday with three matches involving four relegation-threatened teams kicking off simultaneously at 19.00.

 

Naxxar Lions need to beat Senglea Athletic and hope that Tarxien Rainbows lose their direct encounter with St Andrews at the National Stadium to avoid the second automatic relegation spot and force a decider against the Rainbows.

 

If Tarxien avoid defeat against St Andrews, Naxxar, who will be without suspended duo Daren Falzon and goalkeeper Omar Borg, will be automatically relegated.

 

In the first round, Naxxar lost 2-1 to Senglea.

 

Tarxien and St Andrews, a point ahead on 23 points, will be going all out to take the points and avoid the relegation/promotion play-off against Żejtun Corinthians.

 

Veteran Joseph Farrugia returns from suspension for St Andrews but Kemar David Reid is out.

 

Tarxien beat St Andrews 3-2 in the reverse first-round fixture.

 

Mosta also need a point to ease their relegation worries. They face Sliema Wanderers.

 

Kurt Magro and Davide Mansi are suspended for Mosta but Zachary Brincat returns.

 

Mattias Muchardi is out for the Wanderers who were held 1-1 by Mosta in the first round.

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