Malta Football Association
Valletta face rejuvenated Birkirkara in top MD16 clash
Feb 1, 2019
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BOV Premier League

Balzan vs Senglea Athletic (Friday – National Stadium, 7pm)


Matchday 16 of the 2018-19 BOV Premier League kicks off with the encounter between Balzan and Senglea Athletic.

Balzan need the points to stay in the hunt for a Europa League place while Senglea will be looking to maintain their recent resurgence and boost their chances of avoiding relegation.


Steve Pisani is out for Balzan, suspended, but Milos Lepovic returns.


Coach Marko Micovic is expected to give a debut to Boham David Habiganuchi.


Senglea have Matias Nicolas Garcia suspended. They have boosted their squad with four more signings – Bradley Schembri, Japanese Taisei Marukawa, Brazilian Junior Ivamar Silva Nascimento and Croatian Arian Mrsulja


Balzan won the first-round match 5-0.


Pietà Hotspurs vs Qormi (Saturday – Centenary Stadium, 2pm)

This is a direct encounter between two teams fighting to avoid relegation.


Both coming from defeats in the last league outings – Pietà lost 3-0 to Birkirkara and Qormi went down to Balzan (3-1).


Estonian forward Gegi Kekua is expected to make his debut for Pietà Hotspurs.


Qormi have also made some new signings in the final days of the January transfer window – Lithuanian Mohamed Malela Bangoura and Belgian Jordy Lokando Mboyo are among the newcomers.


The first-round match ended in a 2-2 draw.


St Andrews vs Ħamrun Spartans (Saturday – Hibernians Stadium, 2pm)


St Andrews face Ħamrun Spartans in a clash both teams will be going all out to win for different reasons.


While the Saints are aiming to climb up the table and increase the gap on the bottom three teams, the Spartans need the points to maintain their Euro push.


The Spartans, who drew 1-1 against Gżira United in their last league match, will be without goalkeeper Manuel Bartolo and coach Giovanni Tedesco who are both suspended.


Ħamrun prevailed 1-0 in the corresponding first-round match.


Tarxien Rainbows vs Mosta (Saturday – Centenary Stadium, 4.15 pm)

Tarxien Rainbows aim to extend their winning streak, having won their last match against St Andrews 2-1 to stay eighth in the table.


They will be without defender Daniel Zerafa, suspended, but Darren Falzon and Stefan Radovanovic return for the Rainbows.


Mosta suffered a 3-0 defeat to Senglea Athletic in their last league match but gained a boost last weekend after beating Sliema Wanderers 2-1 to advance to the quarter-finals of the FA Trophy.


Their four new signings, Leonard Basil Armstrong (Sweden), Alexander Darlington (Wales), Dijana Hristovska and Demir Imeri (Macedonia), are in line to make their debut.


Mosta won the first-round match 3-1.


Floriana vs Hibernians (Saturday – Hibernians Stadium, 4pm)


An enticing clash as joint-leaders Hibernians meet Floriana who showed signs of improvement in their last league outing – a 1-1 draw against Sliema Wanderers.


Hibernians, who lost 2-1 to Valletta in their last league match, can’t afford to drop point if they are to retain their lofty position and step up their title challenge.


Floriana are also in need of points as they are still languishing in the lower part of the table.


The Paolites will have to make do without the suspended Joseph Mbong and Isaac Toah Ntow with the latter starting a four-match ban.


Hibs coach Stefano Sanderra, who begins a two-match touchline ban, has some new players at his disposal. These include Malta midfielder Jake Grech, who joined Hibs from Birkirkara in exchange for goalkeeper Andrew Hogg, young striker Andrei Spiteri, Serbian goalkeeper Marko Jovicic and Brazilian Marcio da Silveira Barbosa.


Floriana have parted with Brazilian Juninho Cabral, Palestinian Mohammed Saleh and Slovenian Ivica Guberac. Albanian offensive midfielder Kristian Keqi has joined the Greens.


Floriana won the first-round match 2-0.


Gżira United vs Sliema Wanderers (Sunday – National Stadium, 2pm)


A delicate encounter for Gżira United who face neighbours Sliema Wanderers.


The Blues are looking for a new coach after terminating the contract of John Buttigieg by mutual agreement.


Brazilian striker Jefferson De Assis has joined Nadur Youngsters on loan while midfielder Claudio Pani and Goran Adamovic are suspended for Sliema. They have signed Argentinian striker Ignacio Varela from Floriana.


Gżira United have completed the loan signing of Myles Beerman who spent the first half of the season with Birkirkara.


Gżira edged Sliema 2-1 in the first round.


Valletta vs Birkirkara (Sunday – National Stadium, 4pm)


Valletta vs Birkirkara is the most awaited game on matchday 16.


The Citizens have kept their title defence bid on track after their 2-1 win over Hibernians two weeks ago.


Defender Steve Borg returns from suspension for Valletta while Raed Ibrahim Saleh is also set to make his comeback after representing Oman in the Asian Cup.


Birkirkara have agreed to transfer midfielder Jake Grech to Hibernians with Andrew Hogg moving in the opposite direction.


Macedonian midfielder Svraka Muamer has also signed for Birkirkara who will be eyeing the three points to narrow the gap on the leading trio.


The first-round match ended 3-0 in favour of Valletta.


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