Rivals Valletta, Birkirkara look to kickstart seasonPublished: 29-09-2017 13:50
CompetitionsBOV Premier League
One of the most eagerly-awaited fixtures on Matchday Six of the 2017/18 BOV Premier League is that between rivals Birkirkara versus Valletta. Over the past two decades, this fixture has established itself as one of the highlights of the local football calendar as Valletta and Birkirkara have been regular challengers for the major honours. The seven-day programme kicks off with another intriguing clash as Gżira United, who are leading the way with maximum points, take on unbeaten Floriana in the opening match at the National Stadium. Both Valletta and Birkirkara have not impressed in the first five weeks of the season. They obtained contrasting last weekend as Birkirkara scored a last-gasp winner through Cain Attard to pick up the three points against Naxxar Lions while Valletta suffered their first defeat at the hands of Balzan. The title race might still be in its infancy but Valletta will be aware that further loss of points would leave them behind the pacesetters while also increasing the pressure on the team and coach Zoran Popovic. Friday’s encounter will pit Birkirkara coach Paul Zammit against his former team after his two-year spell with Valletta came to end in the summer. TOP CLASHThe first game also promises to unfold into a great encounter as Gżira will be going all out to make it six wins in a row while second-placed Floriana need the three points to cut the gap on the leaders as four points separate the two sides at present. Floriana coach Giovanni Tedesco will again be without midfielder Steve Pisani who will serve the second of a three-game ban. Midfielder Clyde Borg joins Pisani on the sidelines after receiving a one-match ban. LIJA-BALZAN DERBYThe matches at the Victor Tedesco Stadium on Friday open with the Balzan vs Lija Athletic derby. Following a rather shaky start, Balzan won their last encounter against Valletta and will be looking to extend their positive run against their less-quoted neighbours.Lija are bottom of the league table after collecting only one point from five matches, the same as Tarxien Rainbows. Balzan welcome back striker Bojan Kaljevic and midfielder Paul Fenech who missed the Valletta win due to suspension but defender Elkin Serano Valero is out, suspended. HIBS MEET LIONSHibernians, who beat Mosta 3-0 in their last encounter, face Naxxar Lions who were gutted after conceding a last-gasp goal against Birkirkara, having come back from 2-0 down. Marcelo Dias and Rui Da Gracia Gomes return for the champions while Ndaye is likely to make his comeback for Naxxar. In the other games this weekend, the last before the international break, St Andrews meet Senglea Athetic on Saturday while Tarxien, gained their first leaue point following a 1-1 draw against Senglea last weekend, meet Sliema. At the Victor Tedesco Stadium on Saturday, Ħamrun Spartans will be looking to bounce back from their 1-0 defeat to Floriana when they take on Mosta who will be without Tyrone Farrugia, suspended. Pedro Enrique is still out of the picture for Jacques Scerri’s Spartans as he will be serving the second of a four-match ban.