Malta Football Association
NEWS:
Eight teams look to keep cup dream alive
Mar 1, 2020
Posted in:
General
Cups & Competitions
PHOTOS: Joe Borg/MFA
PHOTOS: Joe Borg/MFA

  • PHOTOS: Joe Borg/MFA
  • PHOTOS: Joe Borg/MFA

Balzan vs Pieta Hotspurs – Hibernians Stadium (Saturday – 2pm)

 

FA Trophy holders Balzan face Pietà Hotspurs, the only remaining team outside the top flight. Pietà have done well to reach the last eight of the FA Trophy, putting aside their struggles in the First Division championship where they currently occupy 10th place... five points above the red zone.


On paper, Balzan start as favourites to advance to the semi-finals but coach Jacques Scerri has warned against the perils of underestimating their opponents as he looks to steer the Reds to another successful cup run. The FA Trophy represents Balzan’s best hope of qualifying for the UEFA Europa League as they are nine points behind the fourth-placed Hibernians in the league standings.

 

Balzan defeated Santa Lucia (2-0) and San Ġwann (3-0) in the previous rounds. The Hotspurs have eliminated St George’s in the second round (4-1), Mqabba (3-0) in the third and Xewkija Tigers (2-1) in the fourth.

 

Valletta vs Gudja United – Hibernians Stadium (Saturday – 4.15 pm)

 

Valletta, who will be playing their 68th quarter final in this competition, meet Gudja United in the quarter-finals of this season’s FA Trophy.

 

In the league, Valletta are coming from a 1-0 victory over Gżira United while Gudja United lost 2-0 to Balzan.

 

While the Citizens have greater experience in make-or-break clashes of this kind, they will surely not underestimate Gudja United who have surprised the likes of Sliema Wanderers and Floriana in the league.

 

After Saturday’s FA Trophy encounter, Valletta and Gudja United meet again in the second round of the championship the following week. The first-round meeting was a tight affair with Valletta claiming a narrow 1-0 win courtesy of Mario Fontanella’s goal.

 

Valletta, 14-time FA Trophy winners, knocked out St Andrews (4-0) and Sirens (4-1) en route to the Last Eight while Gudja United won against Lija Athletic (3-0) respectively in the previous round.

 

Hibernians vs Ħamrun Spartans – National Stadium (Sunday – 2pm)

 

This is a match where there are no favourites. Hibernians, who have won the FA Trophy 10 times, and six-time winners Ħamrun Spartans have high hopes of going all the way with the latter knowing that cup success could be their only route to European football after losing ground on the leading quartet in the BOV Premier League.

 

Both teams will be going all out to bounce back from defeats in their last league outings. Hibernians missed the opportunity to narrow the gap on joint-leaders Valletta and Floriana after losing 2-1 to Birkirkara while Ħamrun Spartans went down 2-1 to Mosta.

 

The Spartans, led by coach Andrea Ciaramella, will take heart from their 2-1 victory over Hibernians in the corresponding first-round league match. Their second-round meeting is scheduled to take place a week after the cup clash.

 

In previous rounds, Hibernians had the better of Żejtun Corinthians (3-0) and Pembroke Athleta (4-0) respectively. The Spartans overcome Tarxien Rainbows (2-1) and Swieqi United.
 

Floriana vs Birkirkara – National Stadium Stadium (Sunday – 4.15pm)

 

Joint BOV Premier League leaders Floriana face Birkirkara in arguably the most attractive fixture of this FA Trophy quarter-final programme.

 

Like the Ħibs-Ħamrun clash, this is also an encounter between two former FA Trophy winners with Floriana having claimed the KO honour 20 times while Birkirkara have lifted the cup five times.

 

Birkirkara are on a roll, recovering from a poor start to the season to win five of their last seven games and drawing the remaining two. Three of these wins came against the top teams – Floriana (1-0), Valletta (4-1) and Hibernians (2-1).

 

In the first round, Floriana had edged Birkirkara 1-0, meaning that the head-to-head record this season is even.

 

Floriana needed extra-time to move past the challenge of Senglea Athletic in the fouth round, having beaten Melita 6-1 in the previous round. Birkirkara reached the quarter-finals on the back of narrow victories over Nadur Youngsters (1-0) and Mosta (2-1).  

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