Malta Football Association
NEWS:
Gżira United, Birkirkara out to boost top-four prospects
Mar 6, 2020
Posted in:
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BOV Premier League
PHOTO: Joe Borg/MFA
PHOTO: Joe Borg/MFA

  • PHOTO: Joe Borg/MFA
  • PHOTO: James Galea

Floriana v Sirens (Friday – National Stadium, 7pm)

 

Joint leaders Floriana meet Sirens, the surprise package of the 2019-20 BOV Premier League season who are pursuing a European spot and are also in the mix for the title in their first top-flight campaign.


Only three points separate these two teams in the top part of the standings. Both will be striving for a win to in what promises to be a hard-fought encounter.

 

Floriana will be aiming to build on their recent cup win, on penalties, over Birkirkara where they had a solid performance.

 

Their progress to the semi-finals was a confidence booster for the Greens following a difficult spell in the championship.

 

Enzo Potenza and Stephen D’Amato, the coaches of Floriana and Sirens respectively, should have a full squad to choose from. Emanuel Okoye is back for Sirens having missed the goalless league draw with Sliema Wanderers through suspension.

 

Floriana registered a 4-1 win in the first-round encounter with Sirens.

 

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

 

This is a clash between two sides needing points to ease their relegation worries.

 

Mosta are seventh on 25 points, only two ahead of Santa Lucia who have had a positive second round so far. They are coming from a 5-2 victory over Senglea Athletic.

 

Mosta forward Zachary Brincat and Luis Riascos, for Santa Lucia, will miss this game as they must serve a one-match suspension.

 

Mosta edged Santa Lucia 1-0 in the first round.

 

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

 

This is another direct clash, a proverbial ‘six-pointer’ between Senglea Athletic and Sliema Wanderers, two teams languishing in the bottom part of the standings. 

 

A win for either side would represent a boost in their bid to avoid relegation. Sliema have collected four points from their last two outings – a 1-0 win over Tarxien Rainbows and a goalless draw against Sirens.

 

Senglea will be aiming to bounce back from their poor run as they look to revive their hopes of keeping their top-flight status. Vladan Tomic will take charge of his first match since his appointment as Senglea Athletic coach.

 

Nicolas Virano returns for Senglea but they will be without suspended defender Dejan Debono who was sent off in the 5-2 loss against Santa Lucia.

 

Sliema Wanderers coach Andrea Pisanu and his new assistant Noel Turner have a full squad at their disposal.

 

In the first round, Senglea beat Sliema Wanderers 2-0.

 

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

 

The second meeting in less than a week between these two sides with Hibernians clinching an extra-time 2-1 over Ħamrun Spartans in an FA Trophy quarter-final on Sunday.

 

The Spartans are in a mid-table position but still with work to do to steer further clear of the danger zone whereas

 

Hibernians will be looking to recover from the Birkirkara upset in their last league outing. The Paolites, four points off the top, know that only a win would do if they are to step up their title challenge.

 

Goalkeeper Emanuel Bartolo and Valdo Alhinho Goncalves are missing for the Spartans. Defender Leandro Barbosa returns for Hibernians.

 

Hibernians had beaten the Spartans 2-1 in the first-round league encounter.

 

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

 

Valletta and Gudja United meet for the second time in the space of a week following their FA Trophy quarter-final last Saturday. 

 

The Whites will be going all out to maintain their momentum and emulate their 2-0 win over Gudja in the cup. However, they know that Gudja United are no pushovers as the latter gave the champions a tough time in the first half of last weekend’s cup tie.

 

Valletta will be looking for important points to stay top of the table while Gudja United are also in search of crucial points to further boost their survival hopes.

 

Imanol Benac is suspended for Gudja United.

 

Valletta coach Giovanni Tedesco is expected to have a full squad at his disposal. The first-round encounter resulted in a narrow 1-0 win for Valletta.

 

Balzan vs Tarxien Rainbows – (Sunday – National Stadium, 2pm)

 

Balzan face bottom side Tarxien Rainbows whose hopes of avoiding the drop are now very slim as they are 12 points behind second-from-bottom with only seven matches remaining.

 

Eight-placed Balzan need a boost following their surprise elimination from the FA Trophy at the hands of First Division side Pietà Hotspurs. Jacques Scerri stood down as coach of Balzan earlier this week.

 

Uros Ljubormirac and Nenad Sljivic are also suspended for the Reds who obtained a 3-1 win over Tarxien Rainbows in the first round.

 

Tarxien Rainbows welcome Matthew Tabone back from suspension.

 

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

 

The match of the weekend on Matchday 20 is the clash between Gżira United and Birkirkara who will be targeting important points in pursuit of European football next season.

 

This game has assumed added significance considering that both teams are out of the FA Trophy. Thus, a top-four finish has become imperative for Gżira United (32 points) and Birkirkara (30)

 

Both teams are likely to adopt an attacking mentality in search of a victory that would significantly increase their chances of a top-four position.

 

Fernando Barbosa will serve a one-match ban for Maroons. The Stripes are undermined by the absence of two key players, midfielder Matthew Guillaumier and Enrico Pepe, both missing through suspension.

 

In the first-round match, Gżira United had claimed a 3-1 victory over Birkirkara.

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