Malta Football Association
NEWS:
Unbeaten Greens lead title race at halfway stage – Round-up
Dec 24, 2019
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General
BOV Premier League
PHOTO: Joe Borg/MFA
PHOTO: Joe Borg/MFA

  • PHOTO: Joe Borg/MFA
  • PHOTO: Joe Borg/MFA
  • PHOTO: Joe Borg/MFA

The 2019-20 BOV Premier League has reached its halfway stage amid high prospects of a gripping title race in the second part of the season.


Floriana have clearly been the most consistent team in the first round. They are still unbeaten and, with a six-point lead at the end of the first round, Floriana start the second round as favourites to win the title. However, football has a knack of producing unpredictable outcomes and the likes of Gżira United, Valletta and Hibernians will surely be aiming to step up their challenge in the second round and reduce the gap on the high-flying leaders.

 

Led by coach Enzo Potenza, Floriana looked strong and compact from the outset and the fact they are still the only unbeaten side this season underlines the strength of this team which relies on experienced players but also has an element of youth. The Greens clearly have a squad capable of challenging for the championship until the end with the likes of Albanian Kristian Keqi, midfielders Brandon Paiber and Diego Venancio, and captain Jurgen Pisani leading the charge for the Greens.

 

Gżira United, with Giovanni Tedesco in charge, also began the season with lofty ambitions of winning the top prize, having consolidated their status as one of the leading teams in Malta in a relatively short period of time.

 

Overall, they have had a positive first round, backed by a solid defence that conceded just once in their first five outings. Midway through the round, they produced their best football, claiming five wins on the spin and scoring 19 goals in the process.

 

Champions Valletta and runners-up Hibernians, the two teams that contested the title decider last season, endured a slow start as the newly-promoted sides caused them unexpected problems. Valletta lost 3-2 against Santa Lucia in their league opener whereas Hibernians dropped points to Gudja United and Sirens in their first three matches.

 

Since then, both the Whites and the Paolites have upped their game by several notches, ending their first-round commitments in the top four positions of the standings. Valletta, led by Darren Abdilla, will also be buoyed by their BOV Super Cup success, retaining this honour after beating Balzan 2-1 in the final.

 

SIRENS IMPRESS

 

Talking of the three promoted sides this season, Sirens have been the surprise package with an impressive run that has exceeded everyone’s expectations. Coach Steve D’Amato has instilled a great team spirit among his squad and is clearly bringing the best out of his players with Sirens currently sharing fourth place with Hibernians on 24 points.

 

Most importantly, Sirens have all but assured themselves of their BOV Premier League status in their first season in the top flight.

 

Santa Lucia started brightly but as expected found the going tough as the first round gathered pace. They are now second from bottom on 10 points but their hopes of avoiding relegation are intact as a batch of teams are only separated by six points in the lower part of the standings.

 

One of these teams is Gudja United who started with four successive draws but are now on a four-game unbeaten run which lifted them out of the relegation zone with 14 points and with a game – against Mosta on January 8 – in hand.

 

Balzan and Ħamrun Spartans are in mid-table after a rather inconsistent start to the season with the Spartans dropping several points in no fewer than six draws.

 

DISAPPOINTING START


Traditional heavyweights Birkirkara and Sliema Wanderers have plenty of work to do if they are to climb back into the European positions after a disappointing start to the season. The Stripes concluded their first-round commitments in eighth place with 16 points, two more than Sliema Wanderers with both teams still languishing in the bottom half of the table but having shown signs of improvement recently.

 

Mosta and Senglea Athletic started brightly but faltered in the last two months. Five defeats on the bounce for Mosta and Senglea Athletic’s four losses in their last six matches have seen the two teams slip down the table, raising the spectre of a relegation fight.

 

Tarxien Rainbows are rock bottom, losing 12 matches in a row before finally chalking up their first point of the season in their last game of the round following a 2-2 draw against Senglea Athletic.

 

This result could be seen as a ray of hope for the side led by coach Demis Paul Scerri who will be looking for a much-improved performance from the Rainbows in the second round, knowing that they have no margin for error to revive their hopes of avoiding the drop.

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