Malta Football Association
Second round kicks off with series of direct clashes
Jan 11, 2019
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BOV Premier League

Floriana vs Ħamrun Spartans (Friday, National Stadium – 7pm)


The second round of the 2018-19 BOV Premier League kicks off with the encounter between Floriana and Ħamrun Spartans.

These two teams are coming from a win in their last outings before the international break as Floriana beat Tarxien Rainbows 4-0 while Ħamrun Spartans extended their positive run with a 1-0 victory over rivals Valletta.


Floriana are expected to parade their new signings, Edward Herrera (Birkirkara), Brazilian Lucas Vieira da Silva, Argentine José Arias Ulises and Italian Ezequiel Cesani.


Coach Guido Ugolotti will be without defender Mohamed Saleh who is on international duty with Palestine in the Asian Cup while Alex Cini is suspended.


For the Spartans, Karl Micallef is out of the equation after being sent off during the game against Valletta. Greek defender Orestis Nikolopolous returns.


The Spartans won the first-round game with a 2-0 scoreline.


Pietà Hotspurs vs Hibernians (Saturday, Victor Tedesco Stadium – 2pm)


Joint-leaders Hibernians launch their 2019 commitments with a match against Pietà Hotspurs who are third from bottom.


In their last league outing, the Paolites figured in a 2-2 draw against Balzan while the Hotspurs went down 3-0 to Sliema Wanderers.


In the January transfer window, Hibernians agreed to transfer Johann Bezzina to Birkirkara. They have re-signed Austrian playmaker Marko Sahanek.


While Hibernians are expected to field their best formation, the Hotspurs have Dylan Agius suspended.


In the first round, Hibernians edged the Hotspurs 2-1.


Gżira United vs Tarxien Rainbows (Saturday, Victor Tedesco Stadium – 4.15pm)

Gżira United, currently sharing top spot with Hibernians and the only unbeaten side in the top division, resume their quest for the BOV Premier League with a match against Tarxien Rainbows.


The Maroons, who ended their commitments for 2018 with a 2-1 win over St Andrews, have strengthened their squad with the signings of Cameroonian Justin Junior Mengolo and French forward Joseph Domoraud Sofian.


Coach Darren Abdilla welcomes back Sacha Borg from suspension.


For their part, the Rainbows, 10th in the Premier League table, will be looking to return to winning points after back-to-back defeats.


Tarxien will be without defender André Scicluna, suspended.


Gżira won the first-round encounter 4-1.


Balzan vs Birkirkara (Sunday – National Stadium – 2.00 pm)


This is a direct duel between two teams looking to force their way back into the top-four zone after a rather inconsistent first round.


Sixth-placed Birkirkara are just one point ahead of Balzan.


The Stripes have taken the January transfer window by storm, signing midfielders Johann Bezzina (Hibernians), Maurizio Vella (Floriana), Bosnian Muame Svraka, left-back Clayton Failla (Floriana), and Brazilian striker Jorge Pereira da Silva (Gżira United).


Furthermore, Birkirkara have appointed former Liverpool stalwart and Norway international John Arne Riise as sports director.


For their part, Balzan have re-signed Paul Fenech only six months after the latter’s summer move to Birkirkara. The Reds, led by coach Marko Micovic, have also acquired the services of Bosnian Aleksandar Kosoric and Nigerian David Habiganuchi Boham.


Justin Grioli and Uros Ljubomirac return from suspension for Balzan but Elkin Serrano Valero must serve a one-match ban. 


Birkirkara prevailed with a 1-0 scoreline in the first round.


Valletta vs Sliema Wanderers – (Sunday, National Stadium – 4pm)


This is arguably the most-awaited match of the weekend as champions Valletta take on Sliema Wanderers with only three points separating the duo. 


While the Wanderers are coming from a 3-0 victory over Pietà Hotspurs to stay in contention for a top-four finish, the Whites will be going all out to bounce back from their 1-0 defeat at the hands of Ħamrun Spartans.


Rowen Muscat is in line to return for Valletta after injury kept him out of the Ħamrun defeat. Valletta will be without Raed Ibrahim Saleh who is representing Oman in the Asian Cup.


Ryan Fenech is still missing for Sliema Wanderers as he is still recovering from injury. The experienced midfielder scored a brace in Sliema Wanderers’ 3-0 win over the champions in the first round.


St Andrews vs Mosta (Sunday, Hibernians Stadium – 2pm)


A direct encounter between two teams who need points to steer away from the danger zone.


The pressure is on Mosta who are in 11th place, five points under the Saints.


Mosta are expected to introduce new signing Gianluca Cuomo, from the United States, and Duane Bonnici, signed from Naxxar Lions. Dexter Xuereb returns from suspension.


The Saints are boosted by the return of Amoy Brown and Ricardo Martin, who missed the defeat to Gżira due to suspension.


St Andrews won the first-round match 3-1.


Senglea Athletic vs Qormi (Sunday, Hibernians Stadium – 4.15pm)


This is a direct relegation duel between the bottom teams, Senglea Athletic and Qormi.


Both need a win to boost their hopes of keeping their top-flight status at the end of the season.


Senglea have significantly bolstered their squad during the winter transfer window, bringing in six new foreign players – Brazilian midfielders Romulo Silva Santos and Francisco Diego Venancio, Serbian midfielders Marko Batinica and Nikola Mitic, Moroccan defender Sidqy El Mehdi, Japanese midfielder Yudai Miyamoto and Italian Imanol Gonzalez Benac.


Luke Scorfna has also joined the Cottonera outfit.


Qormi have also moved to improve their squad, recruiting three Brazilian players – Mateus Reggis da Silva, Wellington de Oliviera Vieira and Lucas Santana Dos Santos.


Leighton Grech returns from suspension for Senglea while Qormi welcome back Seo In Kim.


Qormi beat Senglea 1-0 in the corresponding first-round fixture.


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