The BOV Premier League 2010/11 gets underway on Saturday with the first two matches as Qormi take on Hamrun Spartans and Floriana cross swords with Hibernians. Another two matches are in programme on Sunday with the weekend’s big match between Sliema Wanderers and Birkirkara scheduled for Monday.
After missing out on the third place in a decider against Sliema in June, Qormi went through several changes. Former Birkirkara and Sliema coach Stephen Azzopardi was appointed as their new mentor, where he will be assisted by Charles Scerri, replacing Vince Carbonaro who guided the team in the last month following the departure of Jesmond Zerafa.
Foreigners Ramon Dos Santos, Alfred Effiong and top-scorer Camilo Da Silva Sanvezzo moved elsewhere and therefore they will be having an all-new foreign line-up. Massimo Grima, who played an important role with the club over the past two years joined Hamrun while Kenneth Spiteri moved to Mosta on loan. Stephen Wellman joined Vittoriosa while Ryan Deguara and Duncan Pisani returned to their respective clubs after a loan spell.
As part of the deal which took Ramon to Valletta, Qormi retained Jonathan Bondin and Stefan Giglio while Cleavon Frendo joined the club on a one-year loan. Ben Camilleri also joined the club on a one-year loan from Hibernians. They signed former national team midfielder experienced George Mallia.
After going so close to securing a place in European competitions, Qormi will be trying their best to repeat themselves but their main objective will definitely be that of securing a top-six finish.
Hamrun Spartans worked hard to strengthen their squad over the close season. They signed goalkeeper Omar Borg from Birkirkara, Steve Bonnici from Melita and experienced midfielders David Camilleri and Massimo Grima. Manolito Micallef joined Floriana on loan while Ian Zammit returned with Valletta after a six-month loan spell.
Martin Hrubsa and Marcelo Pereira were confirmed but Obinna Obiefule was not retained. They signed Serbian defender Jovan Vukanac and Scottish striker Dene Shields.
The Spartans’ main objective is securing a place in the Championship Pool after failing to reach this target last year.
In the second game, Floriana take on Hibernians.
After disappointing in recent years, the Greens are determined to do better this season. Todor Raykov has been appointed as new coach with Michael Woods as assistant coach and Roger Camilleri as goalkeepers coach. They managed to lure Manolito Micallef and Christian Cassar back to the club on loan from Hamrun Spartans and Marsaxlokk respectively. Pablo Doffo was confirmed as foreigner while new foreigners include Tunisian goalkeeper Lofti Saidi, Bulgarians Ivailo Sokolov and Kiril Dzhorov and American striker Michael Mecerod.
But undoubtedly the club’s biggest signings are those of Under-21 international Tyrone Farrugia from Msida St. Joseph and Sliema Wanderers experienced striker Ivan Woods.
Since last season, Bernard Paris, Orosco Anonam, Marlon Briffa, Clifton Ciantar and Sunday Eboh were not retained.
Floriana are aiming high, hoping to secure a place in European competitions.
Although they made it to the Championship Pool, Hibernians disappointed last season finishing sixth behind rivals Tarxien. Therefore the Paolites are eager to bounce back.
Since last season, they released foreigners Christian Callejas, Elton Morelato and Miguel Lopes De Pina. Jonathan Caruana joined Valletta while Ben Camilleri was loaned to Qormi.
This summer, they signed foreigners Matthew Clarke, Zoran Levnaic, Richard Hart and Paul McManus while Warren Chircop joined the club on loan from Tarxien. Another new signing is Matthew Robert Gauci who returned from England.