Malta Football Association
Coaches Tedesco and Abdilla expect hard-fought encounter
Jan 17, 2019
Posted in:
BOV Premier League

The Ħamrun Spartans-Gżira United clash at the National Stadium on Friday is one of the most attractive fixtures of matchday 15 of the 2018-19 BOV Premier League.

The seven-match programme, kicking off on Friday, features a number of mouthwatering fixtures, including the Old-Firm derby between Sliema Wanderers and Floriana, also on Friday, and Sunday’s title showdown between Hibernians and Valletta.


Fourth-placed Ħamrun Spartans, vying for a Europa League berth, face a stern test against second-placed Gżira United, the only unbeaten team in the top flight and considered among the leading contenders for the title.


Giovanni Tedesco, the Ħamrun Spartans coach, is optimistic that his team can sustain their top-four challenge after going seven matches without defeat.


“First and foremost, I feel honoured to be present for this media conference as it attests to the consistency and results obtained by Ħamrun Spartans so far,” Tedesco said.


“Credit goes to the players because it’s thanks to them that we are in this position where we are challenging for a top-four position.


“We’re enjoying the moment but at the same time we need to stay fully focused and avoid mistakes as we’re aware there are other strong teams just a few points behind us who are also pushing hard to finish in the top four.”


On Friday’s encounter with Gżira United, the Italian coach said: “We have been preparing all week for this match. We know that we’re playing against a strong side but my players are determined to extend this positive run.”


For his part, Gżira United coach Darren Abdilla insisted that the 1-1 draw against Tarxien Rainbows has not increased the pressure on his team ahead of their clash with Ħamrun Spartans.


“We drew against Tarxien Rainbows in a game where we effectively played in their own half,” Abdilla said.


“We controlled the match but were denied at the death.


“There is no added pressure on our players. We are still the only unbeaten team in the championship this season. We are just focusing on our game… we will continue to do our best to maintain our title challenge.”


Abdilla is anticipating a difficult test against Ħamrun Spartans who are on a seven-match unbeaten run. The first-round meeting between the two teams ended goalless.


Ħamrun Spartans captain Triston Caruana views Friday’s match as a very important one for his side as the gap between the teams is so small that this weekend’s results are likely to have an impact on their positions in the standings.


Gżira United forward Haruna Garba, who had a spell with Ħamrun Spartans, is looking forward to the match.


“This promises to be a great match,” the Nigerian said.


“I’ve had the luck to play for both teams and matches between Ħamrun Spartans and Gżira United have always been exciting, even when the two were in the first division.”

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