Malta Football Association
NEWS:
Top-four challengers Birkirkara, Sliema in direct clash
Feb 19, 2021
Posted in:
General
BOV Premier League
PHOTOS: Joe Borg/MFA
PHOTOS: Joe Borg/MFA

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

Tarxien Rainbows vs Senglea Athletic (Saturday – Centenary Stadium, 2pm)


This is a basement clash with second-from-bottom Tarxien Rainbows taking on Senglea Athletic with the latter all but doomed with only two points from 20 matches.
 


The Rainbows also have work to do if they are to keep their survival hopes alive. They will be going all out to bounce back from their 7-0 defeat against neighbours Santa Lucia with new coach Steve D’Amato taking charge of his first match after succeeding Winston Muscat.

 

Tarxien will be chasing a double over Senglea this season after beating them 5-0 in the first round.

 

Senglea’s fading chances suffered another massive blow in midweek as they went down 3-1 to fellow relegation strugglers Lija Athletic.

 

Defender Zachary Cassar is suspended for Senglea Athletic while Tarxien will be without Eduardo Rosado.

 

Sliema Wanderers vs Birkirkara (Saturday – National Stadium, 2pm)

 

Birkirkara are in an upbeat mood following their midweek 2-0 win over Valletta as they head into their clash with Sliema Wanderers who are coming from a 1-1 draw against Gudja United.

 

Wednesday’s win over Valletta lifted Birkirkara above the Wanderers in fourth, making this a direct clash as the Stripes will be looking to steer further clear of Sliema while the latter will regain fourth spot if they take the three points.

 

The Wanderers are aiming to do the double over Birkirkara, having narrowly beaten them 2-1 in the first-round fixture.

 

Defender Enrico Pepe will serve a one-match ban for Birkirkara while the Blues welcome back John Mintoff and Alessandro Milesi.

 

Floriana vs Gudja United (Saturday – Centenary Stadium, 6pm)

Another crucial 90 minutes for Floriana and Gudja United in their bid to steer further clear of the relegation zone.

 

Both teams have not had much to smile about lately, albeit Floriana did gain a much-needed psychological boost with a 2-0 win over bottom side Senglea Athletic last weekend. The champions have re-appointed Italian coach Enzo Potenza in the hope of reviving their fortunes.

 

Gudja United have lost four of their last five league outings, a negative run that has pushed down the league standings and increased the pressure to stem the tide in order to avoid a relegation fight.

 

Midfielder Diego Venancio is suspended for Floriana while Gudja must make do without Llywelyn Cremona.

 

Floriana won the corresponding first-round fixture 2-1.

 

Żejtun Corinthians v Gżira United (Saturday – National Stadium, 6pm)

 

Another enticing fixture with title hopefuls Gżira United taking on Żejtun Corinthians who are returning to action after an enforced break due to COVID-19 issues.

 

The Maroons won 2-1 when the sides met earlier in the season. Both teams need the points for different reasons with

 

Gżira looking keep their title hopes alive and Żejtun to extemd their positive season and further boost their hopes of keeping their top-flight status.

 

Vitor Vieira, for Żejtun, and Gżira’s Sacha Borg will be missing due to suspension but the Maroons are boosted by the return of Gabriel Bohrer Mentz and Jackson Mendoza.

 

Valletta vs Santa Lucia (Sunday – National Stadium – 2.00pm)

 

Valletta face Santa Lucia in what is deemed as a tough test for the Whites as they look to overcome their defeat to Birkirkara in midweek.

 

The Saints are on a high after their impressive 7-0 win over neighbours Tarxien Rainbows which extended their positive campaign this season. Another three points for the Saints would further cement their mid-table position, while possibly paving the way for a late charge towards a Europa League spot.

 

Valletta, down to eighth, are beset by a number of missing players with Jean Borg and Miguel Alba sidelined, Joseph Zerafa and Jonathan Caruana doubtful, and goalkeeper Henry Bonello and Ryan Fenech serving suspensions. Defender Ryan Camilleri returns after served a one-match ban.

 

The first-round meeting between Valletta and Santa Lucia ended 1-1.

 

Lija Athletic vs Hibernians (Sunday – Centenary Stadium, 2pm)

 

Hibernians, second in the table only two points away from leaders Ħamrun Spartans, face a Lija Athletic side in high spirits after their 3-1 win over Senglea Athletic in midweek.

 

Hibernians are favourites to collect the three points which would see them mount further pressure on the Spartans but Lija’s recent form could result in a difficult test for the Paolites who are chasing their fourth win on the trot. In the first round, Hibernians turned on the style, winning 8-1.

 

Raphael Dos Anjos will be missing for the Paolites due to suspension but Gabriel Izquier Artiles returns. Clayton Giordimaina is back in the frame for Lija Athletic.

 

Mosta vs Sirens (Sunday – National Stadium, 6pm)

 

An interesting fixture between two mid-table sides who will be looking to move further up in the standings.

 

Mosta are currently in sixth place on 29 points, two points better than their opponents on Sunday.

 

Sirens will therefore be spurred by the fact that a win would see them leapfrog Mosta in the table. On the other hand, Mosta will be looking to prolong their positive run after a last-gasp Clayton Failla goal earned them a 1-0 win over Gudja United in midweek.

 

Tamsir Jammeh is suspended for Sirens but they welcome back Angel Manuel Bustos.

 

The first-round meeting between Mosta and Sirens ended in a 2-2 draw.

 

Ħamrun Spartans v Balzan – (Sunday – Centenary Stadium – 6.00pm)

 

Leaders Hamrun Spartans face Balzan who are having a difficult season as attested by their lowly position – fourth from bottom – in the standings.

 

A win for the Spartans, unbeaten in their last 15 league matches, would keep them top for another week as they strive to edge closer towards their first league title in 30 years.

 

Ħamrun are expected to be at full strength but Balzan are hampered by the absence of Weverton Gomes, Milan Duric and Sean Cipriott, all suspended.

 

The corresponding first-round match ended in a 2-2 draw.

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