Depleted Stripes take on Sliema

Champions Birkirkara will start their defence of the BOV Premier League title with a game against Sliema Wanderers on Monday evening, kick-off at 19:30.

However Birkirkara coach Paul Zammit will be unable to field his best formation due to the absence of several players due to suspension. Carl Pulo is ruled out after being sent off in the BOV Super Cup final while Patrick Borg, Shaun Bajada, Paul Fenech and Nikola Vukanac were all suspended following the incidents which took place after the game. Borg, Bajada and Fenech were banned for two matches while Vukanac was handed a three-match ban.

Therefore for the Stripes, this game will be an uphill struggle against a team keen to impress after a rather disappointing season which still guaranteed them participation in the UEFA Europa League.

Under the guidance of coach Mark Marlow, the Wanderers worked hard to strengthen their squad, especially with the signing of several foreign players. These include goalkeepers Viktor Szentpeteri and Ini Etim Aktpan, defender Sekou Tidiane Souare, midfielder Valdo Goncalves Alhinho and strikers Obinna Obiefule and Jackson Lima. Aktpan and Lima are the only two players who are yet to make their debut as the others were all involved in the Euro Cup.

The club welcomed back Beppe Muscat, Miguel Ciantar and Roderick Bajada and signed Julian Briffa, Adam Spiteri and Steve Bezzina. Ian Azzopardi and captain Ivan Woods joined Valletta and Floriana respectively. Ryan Fenech returned with Hamrun while Ian Ciantar was released.

For Birkirkara, Ezequiel Lovizon, Andrew Decesare and Emiliano Lattes are expected to make their league debut after playing for them in Euro Cup and/or the BOV Super Cup. Scottish defender Ryan Harding and Under-21 international Terence Vella should make their debut.

The two teams met in the Euro Cup with Sliema registering a 3-1 win.

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