Malta Football Association
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Hibs in tricky clash with Balzan, City face upbeat Spartans
Dec 14, 2018
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BOV Premier League

Gżira United vs St Andrews (Friday – National Stadium, 7pm)

 

In the first game of matchday 13, which brings an end to the first round of the 2018/19 BOV Premier League, Gżira United face St Andrews with both teams coming from a draw.
 


Gżira were involved in a thrilling 3-3 draw against Mosta and St Andrews figured in a 0-0 stalemate against Floriana.

 

Gżira United will be without Roderick Briffa and Sacha Borg, both suspended for four yellow cards, but Juan Carlos Corbalan returns from suspension.

 

The Saints are depleted by the absence of three players, Amoy Brown, Ricardo Martin and Kevyn McFarlane, all suspended.

 

Mosta vs Qormi (Saturday – Centenary Stadium, 2pm)

 

This is a direct encounter between two teams hovering in the lower part of the table with Mosta in the relegation zone and Qormi sharing bottom spot with Senglea Athletic.

 

However, Mosta head into this match in high spirits after their positive performance in the 3-3 draw against Gżira United.

 

The introduction of Ivory Coast striker Davy Claude Angan N’Guessan and Akeem Garnet Roach, from Trinidad & Tobago, seems to have given the Blues a much-needed push.

 

However, Roach, who scored a brace against Gżira, is not available for this game after being sent off last weekend. Dexter Xuereb joins him on the sidelines after he was shown his fourth yellow card.

 

For their part, Qormi are expected to be at full strength. They will take heart from their plucky performance in the 2-1 defeat to Birkirkara last week.

 

Pietà Hotspurs vs Sliema Wanderers (Saturday – Centenary Stadium, 4.15pm)

 

Pietà Hotspurs and Sliema Wanderers will be looking to bounce back after losing their last match.

 

The Hotspurs were gutted after going down 3-2 to neighbours Ħamrun Spartans in an action-packed derby while Sliema went down 3-1 to Balzan.

 

The two teams are expected to field their best formation. Midfielder Ryan Fenech is expected to return for the Wanderers.

 

Senglea A. vs Birkirkara (Sunday – Hibernians Stadium, 2pm)

 

Birkirkara begin as favourites to make it three wins in a row while struggling Senglea will be going all out to end a run of four consecutive defeats.

 

Birkirkara coach Paul Zammit is unlikely to make significant changes from the 2-1 win over Qormi.

 

Captain Mislav Andelkovic is back for the Stripes.

 

Senglea have Leighton Grech suspended after he was shown his fourth yellow card in the 2-0 defeat to Hibernians last Sunday.

 

Floriana vs Tarxien Rainbows (Sunday – Hibernians Stadium, 4pm)

 

Floriana need a win to boost their flailing morale following a disappointing start to the season.

 

The Greens, who drew 0-0 against St Andrews, meet a Tarxien Rainbows team who will also be looking to make amends after crashing to a 7-0 defeat against champions Valletta.

 

Both teams are expected to go all out to take the three points.

 

Floriana will be without the suspended Jurgen Pisani and Mohammed Saleh.

 

Tarxien Rainbows coach José Borg will serve the second of a three-match touchline ban.

 

Balzan vs Hibernians (Monday – National Stadium, 6pm)

 

This is a difficult test for both Hibernians and Balzan.

 

Hibernians are on an eight-match winning run to lead the standings with 30 points, two ahead of Gżira United and Valletta heading into matchday 13.

 

Balzan, who lost 2-1 to Valletta in Thursday’s BOV Super Cup match, need a win to bolster their challenge for a top-four finish and a Europa League spot. The Reds beat Sliema 3-1 in their last league outing.

 

A win for Hibernians would ensure they finish the first round in the top position going into the Christmas break.

 

Balzan have Justin Grioli suspended while Hibernians are strengthened by the return of Nemanja Radojevic.

 

Valletta vs Ħamrun Spartans (Monday – National Stadium, 8pm)


The first round ends with the classic fixture between two great rivals of the eighties and nineties – Valletta and Ħamrun Spartans.

 

Both are on a high. Ħamrun beat neighbours Pietà Hotspurs (3-2) in their last outing to extend their unbeaten run to five games.

 

Valletta followed up their 7-0 rout of Tarxien last week with a 2-1 win over Balzan to lift the BOV Super Cup – their third honour in 2018.

 

Defenders Ryan Camilleri and Joseph Zerafa are doubtful for Valletta.

 

The Spartans will be without Greek defender Orestis Nikolopoulos, suspended after seeing red against Pietà.

  

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