The BOV Premier League 2018/19 kicks-off on Friday evening with the first three matches as Birkirkara face Balzan while newly-promoted Qormi and Pietà Hotspurs take on Senglea Athletic and Hibernians respectively.
The match of the day is definitely the clash between Birkirkara and Balzan which will be played at the National Stadium, kick-off at 19:00.
During the close season, Balzan, who finished in the runner-up spot last year, secured the services of goalkeeper Steve Sultana, Dale Camilleri, Neil Frendo, Serbians Nenad Slijvic and Andrija Majdevac and Uruguayan midfielder Ricardo Calixto Correa. Following their fine performance in the UEFA Europa League where they managed to register two wins in four matches and eliminated Kesla FK of Azerbaijan, Balzan hope this will be the year that they manage to win their first major honour.
For Birkirkara, last season was a quite disappointing one and to make sure to make amends, they were quite active in the transfer market, signing a number of new players in order to strengthen the squad, namely Uchenna Calistus Umeh, Marcelo Henrique Franca de Siqueira, Eduardo Ferreira dos Santos, Fabiano Lima, Danilo Chapoval de Azevedo, Thiago Esmerindo de Souza de Brito, Paul Fenech, Terence Agius and Michael Mifsud. Their main objective will be that of challenging for honours.
Coaches Marko Micovic and Paul Zammit will once again lead Balzan and Birkirkara respectively.
In the first match at the Victor Tedesco Stadium, kick-off at 18:30, Qormi face Senglea Athletic.
Qormi were crowned champions in the BOV First Division last season and led by coach Brian Spiteri, their main objective will be that of retaining Premier League status. The squad has been strengthened with the arrival of Seo-In Kim, Leonardo Henrique Ferreira, Kassiano Soares Mendonça, Davide Mansi, Claudio Celis, Alexsandro dos Santos Ferreira, Michael Borg, Gaetano Gesualdi, Manolito Micallef and Dorian Bugeja. However Leozinho is ruled out as he sustained an injury in pre-season.
Senglea went through several changes in their squad since last season following the departure of coach Paolo Favaretto and all the foreign players who were on the books of the club. Their new coach is Bruno Russo and apart from new foreigners, they signed Philip Schranz, Leighton Grech, Dylan Micallef, Brandon Muscat and Zach Cassar. After managing to avoid relegation last season, this should remain as the club’s main objective.
In the second match at the Victor Tedesco Stadium, kick-off at 20:45, Hibernians take on newly promoted Pietà Hotspurs.
The Paolites, now led by coach Stefano Sanderra, lost a number of players since last season including Clayton Failla, Jackson Lima, Rodolfo Soares and Jorginho among others but signed Isaac Toah N’Tow, Nemanja Radojevic, Ivan Blažević, Taylon Nicolas Correa Marcolino and Tiago Adan Fonseca. Considering the several changes, challenging for honours could be difficult for the Paolites but they should be among those hoping for a place in the UEFA Europa League next summer.
On the other hand, the Hotspurs, once again led by Ramon Zammit, will be doing their best to retain their Premier League status on their return after an absence of ten years. Their squad will be based mainly on that of last season with the addition of goalkeeper Nicky Vella, last season’s First Division top scorer Paul Chimezie together with Antônio Orlando Queiroz Macedo Neto, Takaki Ose and Shunsuke Nakamura.