Malta Football Association
BOV Premier Division Match Day 10 preview
Nov 26, 2021
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BOV Premier League
(c) Joe Borg
(c) Joe Borg

  • (c) Joe Borg
  • (c) Joe Borg

Another six pulsating clashes are planned this weekend on Match Day 10 of the BOV Premier Division. League leaders Hibernians are facing another tricky test against an in-form Balzan team, while chasers Floriana, Valletta, Birkirkara and Hamrun Spartans cannot effort to lose any more ground in their challenge for a top six birth. 

Floriana v Sirens – 27.11.2021 (14.00 hrs) – Tony Bezzina Stadium
Second placed Floriana take on Sirens, who suffered a huge defeat against Balzan last Sunday, a disappointing loss with a very poor first half performance. A third defeat in four matches has increased the pressure for a top-six finish as Winston Muscat’s men slipped to seventh place.
The Blues need to respond against a well-equipped and consistent Floriana team, who earned ten points in their last four matches. But although the Greens were the better side for long periods against Gudja United, their key moment arrived in the 53rd minute thanks to Leighton Grech’s misfortune, directing the ball into his own net. 
Floriana will be without Jan Busuttil through injury while Sirens will welcome back Italian defender Diego Albanese and Argentinian midfielder Brandan Fernando. Last season, Floriana won the 1st round match 3-2 but Sirens beat the Greens 3-2 in the second round, their first ever win in history over Floriana.


Birkirkara v Sliema Wanderers – 27.11.2021 (16.00 hrs) – National Stadium

Birkirkara need to bounce back after last Sunday’s loss, as it was Santa Lucia who brought down the Stripes to earth, beating their more quoted opponents 2-0. After conceding two goals in the first half hour and after losing defender Enrico Pepe to a red card late in the first period, Birkirkara faced an uphill struggle and never recovered. A wake-up call for the Yellows, who slipped three places in the ranking to fifth, if they still want to stay in contention for the title. 

On the other hand, Sliema’s must-win against Valletta (2-1) was done in style as they upped their game after the break. They found their stride after the Citizens took an early lead just after 12 minutes and looked very composed, more fluid and in control. They deservedly secured their first win of the season when in the dying minutes, Dutch midfielder Danny Holla stepped up to shoot a stunning free-kick placing the ball into the roof of the net. Unfortunately for the Wanderers, a quarantine error with their Djibouti star Warsama Hassan, cost them the points. But the way Sliema played against Valletta must certainly give a boost for the next Premier Division games.

The only absentee for Birkirkara is the suspended Pepe while Sliema could field an unchanged team. It will be the 182nd time both teams meet in an official MFA match. Last season, Sliema won the 1st round match 2-1, while the return match ended in a 2-2 draw. The last time Birkirkara beat Sliema was on 31 March 2019 (1-0).


Valletta v Mosta – 27.11.2021 (18.00 hrs) – Tony Bezzina Stadium

Valletta, who will meet Mosta, slumped to a disappointing 2-1 defeat against Sliema Wanderers but fortunately for them, they won the points after Sliema’s quarantine error. However, last weekend, the Citizens failed to capitalise after Eslit Sala’s header put them in front early in the game. If they are to challenge for the title, they should be performing better than their last outing as they did not quite click into gear especially after the break. Lots of homework to for coach Antonio Jose Cardosa Mendes 'Toze'.

Their opponents, Mosta, rescued a 2-2 draw against Gzira United. Having fallen behind by two goals, they seemed destined for a defeat especially after Jonas Rodriguez-Ekani’s dismissal, who picked up his second yellow card for conceding a penalty. But in a dramatic comeback they managed to earn an important point. 

Mosta will be without the suspended Rodriguez-Ekani and Tyrone Farrugia, two important players. In their Premier Division fixture last season, they played out a 2-2 draw, a rare point for Mosta as they have not beaten Valletta in their last 15 matches, their last win was recorded on 17 August 2014 (0-1). 


Gzira United v Gudja United – 28.11.2021 (14.00 hrs) – National Stadium

Injury hit Gzira United need to forget all about their last match as they threw away two points. They thought they were cruising to victory after having established a comfortable 2-0 lead courtesy of Maxuell Maia and Gabriel Mentz goals, the latter from the spot in which Mosta had a player sent off leading to the penalty. But somehow, they were pegged back and had to settle for an immensely frustrating two all draw.

On the other hand, Gudja United are still situated in the bottom of the table after a 1-0 defeat against Floriana. Now the pressure is piling on them but in reality, they were denied a point thanks to an unfortunate own goal. Now they need to bounce back and must focus for a must-win after four successive defeats. 

Luke Tabone and Hubert Vella will return from suspension for Gzira and Gudja respectively, but Colombian defender Mentz is suspended for the Maroons. Apart from that, Gzira still have Steve Borg and Ricardo Correa on the injury list, while Thaguinho’s season is over with a lengthy injury. It will be already the 38th time both teams meet, the first one being in 1949 in the 3rd Division. Last season, the match ended in a draw (1-1) but Gzira won the points after a protest as Gudja fielded an ineligible player. The season before, Gzira beat Gudja 6-1 in the Premier Division. In fact, the last time Gudja had the better of Gzira was way back in 2014 in the 1st Division (1-3).


Hamrun Spartans v Santa Lucia – 20.11.2021 (16.00 hrs) – Tony Bezzina Stadium

Hamrun Spartans remain firmly as one of the main contenders for the Premier League title but cannot afford to drop more points after suffering a 1-0 defeat against Hibernians, which was already their fifth of the season. They face Santa Lucia who sit on top of the relegation zone but whose morale is sky high after unexpectedly defeating Birkirkara 2-0. This is another tricky match for the Spartans as Santa Lucia will be looking to pull off another surprise against the reigning champions who head into this match nine points adrift of leaders Hibernians.

Both teams have two players suspended, which are Victor Luiz Filho and Jamie Zerafa for Santa Lucia and Franklin Sasere and Faissal El Bakhtaoui for Hamrun. This will be only the fourth time both teams will meet in an official match. Santa Lucia have never beaten Hamrun so far, but also only lost once against the Spartans. Last season, their only Premier Division match ended in a draw (2-2), while the season before, the 1st round match ended in another draw (1-1) before Hamrun beat Santa Lucia 4-1 in the 2nd round match.


Balzan v Hibernians – 20.11.2021 (18.00 hrs) – National Stadium

Looking at the current form, this should be the stand-out fixture of the weekend between two teams who registered important victories in their last outing. There was a clinical 1-0 win for Hibernians, who tightened their grip on top spot, against Hamrun Spartans thanks to a thunderous long-range strike by Jake Grech, an absolute stunner and a real contender of the ‘Best Goal of the Season’. 

But the Paolites face another difficult task as fourth place Balzan have an opportunity to narrow the gap to three points at the top of the table. In their last match, they swept aside Sirens (6-1) after they clicked into high gears during the first period and by the break the win was done and dusted after scoring five goals. The second half was a formality as the contest was over.  

While Balzan most probably will be an unchanged team, Hibernians have to do without the suspended Leandro Almeida after picking the fourth yellow card.  Hibernians did not lose against Balzan since 9 December 2017, when the latter obtained a narrow 1-0 victory in the Premier Division. Since this match, the encounter was played five times, with four Hibernians wins and one draw.

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