Malta Football Association
NEWS:
Gżira United, Birkirkara in direct top-four encounter
Feb 15, 2019
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BOV Premier League

Tarxien Rainbows vs Sliema Wanderers (Today – National Stadium, 7pm)

 

Matchday 18 kicks off with the all-blue encounter between Tarxien Rainbows and Sliema Wanderers at the National Stadium.
 


Sliema need to embark on a winning run if they are to revive their hopes of a Europa League qualifying berth. For their part, the Rainbows also need the points to pull further clear of the relegation zone.

 

Italian Stefano Maccoppi will take charge of his first match as Sliema Wanderers coach. Captain Mark Scerri returns from suspension for Sliema.

 

Tarxien Rainbows coach Josè Borg must make do without Anderson de Barros, suspended.

 

Sliema won the first-round match 3-1.

 

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

 

Hibernians, currently sharing top spot with Valletta, face St Andrews.

 

The Paolites will be upbeat about their chances of gaining maximum points from this match following their 1-0 win over Gżira United last weekend.

 

Coach Stefano Sanderra returns after serving a touchline ban. Marcelo Dias is also available after missing the Gżira win due to suspension but Ghanaian midfielder Isaac Toah Ntow is still suspended.


St Andrews are coming from a 1-1 draw against Sliema but are without a win in their last five outings.


Coach Johann Scicluna is not expected to make significant changes to his starting XI but Kurt Magro who is suspended.


The Paolites emerged 2-0 winners in the first round.

 

Valletta vs Senglea Athletic (Saturday – Hibernians Stadium, 2pm)


Champions Valletta take on Senglea in a clash between the only two teams who have won their four matches so far in the second round.

 

Valletta will be without Rowen Muscat who received a one-match ban after being shown his fourth yellow card in the 2-1 win against Qormi.


Enzo Potenza, the Senglea coach, must cope without Croatian Arian Mrsulja who is suspended after being dismissed for two yellow cards in last weekend’s 2-1 win over Pietà Hotspurs.


Senglea will be honouring the memory of their Vice-President and club pillar Benny Casha who passed way on Wednesday.

 

Valletta cruised to a 5-1 victory in the corresponding first-round match.

 

Mosta vs Ħamrun Spartans (Saturday – Hibernians Stadium, 4pm)

 

Ħamrun Spartans have their sights set on third place as a win over Mosta would take them above Gżira United ahead of the latter’s tricky clash with Birkirkara on Sunday.


The Spartans’ morale is sky-high as they are on 10-match positive run.

 

Mosta held Balzan to a goalless draw in their last outing. 

 

Ħamrun will be without influential forward Kevin Tulimieri, who was sent off in the 3-0 win over Tarxien Rainbows.

 

Goalkeeper Manuel Bartolo returns but coach Giovanni Tedesco is still sidelined with a touchline ban, albeit his suspension has been reduced from 10 to six matches on appeal.


Mosta coach Mark Miller doesn’t have any selection problems.


The first-round match between Mosta and Ħamrun ended goalless.

 

Floriana vs Qormi (Saturday – Centenary Stadium, 4.15pm)


Floriana meet bottom side Qormi in a must-win game for both teams.


The Greens have had a disappointing season so far but showed signs of improvement in recent matches, especially last weekend’s 0-0 draw against Birkirkara.


Failure to take maximum points from this match would leave them in troubled waters.

 

Only a win would do for Qormi if they are to revive their fading hopes of avoiding relegation at the end of the season.


Floriana prevailed 3-1 in the first round.

 

Pietà Hotspurs vs Balzan (Sunday – National Stadium, 2pm)


In Sunday’s opening match, Balzan face a Pietà Hotspurs side who have lost their last seven matches.


Balzan are also enduring a below-par season. They lie in sixth place, six points behind third-placed Gżira United.


Colombian defender Elkin Serrano Valero returns from suspension for Balzan, now under the charge of Jacques Scerri.


Not the same can be said of the Hotspurs who will be without suspended duo, Christian Grech and Antonio Machedo. Neil Pace Cocks returns from suspension.


Balzan won the first-round game 1-0.

 

Gżira United vs Birkirkara (Sunday – National Stadium, 4pm)


This is the most awaited game of matchday 18 as Gżira United and Birkirkara are challenging for a top-four position.

 

The defeat to Hibernians, their first this season, has dented Gżira’s hopes of winning the title but they remain well-placed to secure a top-three finish.


Jesmond Zerafa has taken over as coach of Gżira United following the resignation of Darren Abdilla.

 

Birkirkara, in fifth place, have slipped 11 points behind the leading duo.

 

Both teams have a player suspended – Fernando Barbosa Pereira for the Maroons and Marcelo de Siqueira for the Stripes.

 

Gżira edged Birkirkara 2-1 in the first-round game.

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