Malta Football Association
NEWS:
Valletta-Birkirkara encounter takes centre-stage
Feb 12, 2020
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BOV Premier League

Santa Lucia vs Sirens (Saturday – Centenary Stadium, 2pm)

 

Santa Lucia and Sirens are enjoying a positive season in their maiden BOV Premier League campaign.
 


Both will be going all out to collect maximum points with Sirens pushing for a top-four position and a possible Europa League spot while Santa Lucia will be looking to extend their recent positive run after winning their last three league outings. The Saints still have work to do to allay their relegation fears.

 

In their last outing, Santa Lucia, led by coach Oliver Spiteri, overcame neighbours Tarxien 3-1 while Sirens succumbed to a 2-1 defeat to Ħamrun Spartans on Monday.

 

Luis Riascos returns for Santa Lucia while midfielder Lucas Memezes is set to return for the side led by coach Steve D’Amato.

 

Sirens emerged 3-1 winners in the first round.

 

Sliema Wanderers vs Tarxien Rainbows (Saturday – Hibernians Stadium, 2pm)

 

All the pressure is on Sliema Wanderers who need the points to move out of the danger zone. They face Tarxien Rainbows whose hopes of avoiding the drop are fading fast.

 

At the moment, Sliema are third from bottom after four defeats in their last five outings. This run has led to the departure of coach Alfonso Greco who has been replaced by fellow Italian Andrea Pisanu.

 

Sliema are expected to be at full strength for this crucial encounter whereas Brandon Muscat and Stiv Shaba are missing for the Rainbows.

 

Sliema Wanderers will be vying to repeat their first-round 2-1 win.

 

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


Hibernians take on Mosta fully aware that they can’t drop more points if they are to maintain their title challenge. The Paolites have lost to Sirens and drew against Senglea Athletic in their last two outings.

 

Mosta are also coming from a defeat and remain in mid-table. They will be looking to gain more points to move further clear of the relegation zone.

 

Hibernians welcome versatile player Joseph Mbong back from suspension. The first-round encounter went Hibs’ way, 2-1.

 

Floriana vs Gudja United (Saturday – Centenary Stadium, 4.15pm)

 

Floriana will be striving to get back to winning ways when they face Gudja United on Saturday with the Greens aiming to keep up their title challenge.

 

A tough match for Floriana, currently sharing top spot with Valletta, against a Gudja United side who will be bidding to build on their recent win over Sliema Wanderers.

 

Matias Garcia is back in the frame for Floriana but they will have to do without influential midfielder Diego Venancio due to suspension.

 

Gudja United have Anderson De Barros suspended but welcome back in the squad former Senglea Athletic player Hubert Vella.

 

Floriana defeated Gudja United 2-0 in the first round.

 

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

 

Gżira United face Balzan in one of the most attractive fixtures on Matchday 18.

 

Both sides have their sights set on the three points after failing to win in their last outing. Gżira, led by new coach Paul Zammit, are still in with a shout for the title despite collecting only one point from their last three outings. For their part, Balzan will be looking to rejoin the chasing pack for a Europa League spot.

 

Gżira are expected to be at full strength but Balzan will be without goalkeeper Kristijan Naumovski and midfielder Uros Ljubomirac, both suspended following their dismissal in their 3-1 loss to Valletta last week.

 

Gżira United obtained a 2-0 win when the two sides met in the first round.

 

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

 

This classic encounter is expected to draw a sizeable crowd to the National Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

 

A keenly-contested match is expected as both Valletta and Birkirkara are heading into their second-round match in a positive frame of mind.

 

Valletta are on a high after going 11 matches unbeaten, in the process moving up to top spot after their 3-1 win over Balzan. The Citizens are pushing for a third title in a row.

 

Birkirkara are on the rise as they are undefeated in their last five matches, winning three and drawing two. A win over Valletta could propel them back into the Europa League race.

 

Rowen Muscat is back for Valletta but Birkirkara will be without the experienced Roderick Briffa who must serve a one-match suspension.

 

The first-round match was an entertaining affair with the two sides gaining a point apiece in a 2-2 draw.

 

Ħamrun Spartans vs Senglea Athletic (Monday – National Stadium, 7pm)

 

Monday’s fixture is a clash between two teams in the bottom half of the standings, Ħamrun Spartans and Senglea Athletic.

 

The Spartans gained some breathing space having obtained an important 2-1 win over Sirens last Monday.

 

Senglea are in troubled waters as they are second from bottom. They will be looking to build on their positive 1-1 draw with Hibernians in their last match.

 

There appear to be no injury concerns for Ħamrun ahead of these 90 minutes while Senglea Athletic will be without suspended duo Elvis Sakyi and Anderson Cameiro. Malta Under-21 international Jan Tanti is set to return from suspension.

 

Ħamrun Spartans won the first-round match with a 3-1 scoreline.

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