Championship Pool gets underway

The second phase of the BOV Premier League gets underway on Friday as Birkirkara take on Sliema Wanderers and Hibernians face Qormi in the first two matches from the Championship Pool.

The Stripes start the second phase on 20 points, together with Valletta, followed by Qormi on 18, Sliema on 15, Hibernians on 14 and Tarxien on 13.

In the first match, Birkirkara will be aiming for the three points as they meet Sliema. Paul Zammit’s side lost just one of the twelve league matches, ironically a 0-1 defeat to the Wanderers a month ago. They defeated Msida 2-1 and Qormi 2-0 in their last two outings.

The Blues, on the other hand, won three of the last four league games, defeating Dingli Swallows, Birkirkara and Floriana, before earning a point in a 2-2 draw with Hibernians despite ending in nine men. However last week, they suffered a shock 1-2 defeat to First Division side Mosta in the National League 100 Anniversary Cup quarter-finals.

Sliema will be unable to field their best formation due to the absence of Alex Muscat, Ryan Fenech and the injured Mark Scerri. Birkirkara, on the other hand, cannot count once again on George Mallia.

The two teams met three times this season. Sliema defeated Birkirkara 1-0 in the Euro Cup but Birkirkara registered a comfortable 3-0 win in the BOV Premier League first round before the 1-0 win for Sliema in the second.

Meanwhile in the second match, Hibernians and Qormi both aim at returning to winning ways after disappointing in their last outing.

The Paolites were held in a 2-2 draw by Sliema although the latter ended in nine men. Qormi, on the other hand, suffered a 0-2 defeat to Birkirkara.

Lying just two points behind the leaders, the Yellows target a winning start for their second phase commitments in order to maintain pressure on the leading duo. The Paolites, on the other hand, are keen to climb up in the BOV Premier League table after going six games without a win.

Hibernians defender Edward Herrera and Qormi’s Stephen Wellman are ruled out through suspension.

The two teams met three times this season. Following a 3-1 win for Qormi in the first round, Hibs won on penalties in the National League 100 Anniversary Cup third round following a 1-1 draw. In the BOV Premier League second round, the two teams shared the spoils in a 2-2 draw.

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