Malta Football Association
Must-win games for Hibs and Valletta in gripping title race
Apr 13, 2019
Posted in:
BOV Premier League
Photo: Domenic Aquilina/MFA
Photo: Domenic Aquilina/MFA

Tarxien Rainbows vs Pietà Hotspurs (Saturday – National Stadium, 4pm)

Tarxien Rainbows face relegation strugglers Pietà Hotspurs who are sharing bottom spot with Qormi in the BOV Premier League standings.

A win for the Rainbows would lift them further clear of the red zone as a cluster of clubs are fighting to avoid a relegation play-off against the third-placed team in the BOV First Division.


Tarxien coach Josè Borg is suspended but defender Prince Loic Mambouana returns.


Although Pietà’s hopes of keeping their top-flight status are remote, the Hotspurs are in high spirits after their 3-1 victory over St Andrews.


Jan Busuttil is suspended for the Hotspurs but they welcome back Juan Manuel Ariataga Roa who missed the win over St Andrews.


Tarxien won the first-round match 3-0.


Birkirkara vs Mosta (Saturday – National Stadium, 6pm)

This is an important match for both teams.


Birkirkara, still in the hunt for fourth place, will be looking to raise their form ahead of their FA Trophy quarter-final against the same Mosta on May 3.


The same applies for the Blues who will all but secure their place in the BOV Premier League for next season if they gain maximum points from their clash with Birkirkara.


Birkirkara will be without suspended duo Terence Agius and Kurt Zammit with the latter starting a six-match ban.


The Stripes won the first-round match 3-0.


Ħamrun Spartans vs Balzan (Sunday – National Stadium, 4pm)

Ħamrun Spartans take on Balzan aiming for a win to keep their top-three hopes alive, albeit with only three matches left, their chances look slim as they trail Gżira United by five points.


Balzan, who are coming from two consecutive wins, will be looking to get the three points to improve their chances of finishing fourth as well as to boost their morale ahead of their FA Trophy quarter-final against Tarxien Rainbows in early May.


Giovanni Tedesco, the Spartans coach, will be without suspended midfielder Triston Caruana while Matthew Gauci and Wilfried Joselin Domoraud return from suspension.


Colombian defender Elkin Serrano Valero returns for Balzan.


The first-round match ended in a 1-1 draw.


St Andrew’s vs Valletta (Sunday – National Stadium, 6pm)

This is a do-or-die match for Valletta who can’t afford to drop more points.


Now one point behind leaders Hibernians, Valletta are no longer in the driving seat in so far as the title race is concerned but with three matches remaining, the issue is still wide open.


On the other hand, the Saints, who are coming from six consecutive defeats, also need the points to bolster their chances of avoiding the relegation-promotion play-off.


St Andrews have Kemmu Degran Jackson and Travis Blagrove suspended.


Argentine winger Miguel Angel Alba returns from suspension for Valletta but Bojan Kaljevic and Matteo Piciollo are doubtful.


Valletta edged St Andrew 1-0 in the first round.


Sliema Wanderers vs Senglea Athletic (Monday – Centenary Stadium, 6pm)

A very interesting encounter between two teams who need points for different reasons.


While Sliema Wanderers are still in the chase for a top-three finish and a spot in next season’s Europa League, Senglea Athletic will be looking to maintain their second-round revival and extend their stay in the top flight.


The Wanderers are expected to field their strongest formation as they are strengthened by the return of Claudio Pani.


Senglea will be without influential Argentine forward Augusto Rene Caseres, suspended.


The first-round match went Sliema’s way – 2-0.


Gżira United vs Floriana (Monday – Hibernians Stadium, 7pm)

A difficult test for Gżira United who meet Floriana with the latter having picked up four points from their last two matches, in the process making sure of their place in the BOV Premier League after overcoming a poor start.


The Maroons need three more points to finish in third place and qualify for the Europa League for the second season in succession.


Gżira coach Jesmond Zerafa welcomes back defender Clifford Gatt Baldacchino while Floriana are expected to field the same formation that started the 3-3 draw against Mosta.


Gżira won the first-round match 1-0.


Hibernians vs Qormi (Monday – Centenary Stadium, 8.15pm)

Matchday 24 ends with the encounter between new BOV Premier League leaders Hibernians and strugglers Qormi.


While the Paolites start as firm favourites to earn the three points, they will surely not underestimate their opponents.


A win for Hibernians would further boost their hopes of winning the title for the 13th time in their history.


The Paolites could go into their game against Qormi in second place if Valletta beat St Andrews but victory would restore their one-point lead with only two games left.


Tiago Adan Fonseca and Marcelo Dias are suspended for Hibernians.


In the first round, Hibernians emerged 2-1 winners.

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