Championship Pool gets underway

The second phase of the BOV Premier League gets underway on Saturday with the first two matches from the Championship Pool at the Hibernians Stadium.

Valletta enjoy a most comfortable seven-point lead despite the fact that points were halved at the end of the first phase. On the other hand, just three points separate the other five teams with Tarxien Rainbows on 15, Floriana and Birkirkara on 14, Marsaxlokk and Hamrun on 12.

In the first match, Marsaxlokk take on Floriana.

The Southseasiders secured a place in the Championship Pool after a dramatic 2-2 draw with Qormi on Sunday and now will be all out to climb into a better position in the table. They are coming from a good run of six positive results – four draws and two wins.

Floriana, on the other hand, are eager to bounce back after suffering three defeats in their last three outings. A win could put them in second place, especially if Tarxien fail to beat Birkirkara in the other game.

The Greens have two new players in squad – English goalkeeper Matthew Towns and Egyptian striker Mohamed El Yamani. El Yamani should replace Nigerian striker Daniel Nwoke who is still recovering from an injury. Thomas Paris is back after serving a one-match ban.

Floriana defender Duncan Pisani and Marsaxlokk’s Malcolm Licari are ruled out through suspension.

Marsaxlokk, however, welcome back Rumen Galabov, Andrew Spiteri, Martin Deanov and Gareth Sciberras who missed the last game.

In the previous rounds, Marsaxlokk defeated Floriana 1-0 in the first round while the Greens registered a 3-0 win in the second.

Meanwhile in the second game, Tarxien Rainbows face Birkirkara.

After finishing the first phase in second place, the Rainbows will be doing their utmost to secure a place in Europe this summer. Therefore they will hope to start their Championship Pool commitments with a win over the Stripes after failing to beat them in the previous two rounds. In fact, the two clashes ended in goalless draws – one of which last week. Tarxien collected just five points in their last five matches.

Birkirkara are also eager to return to victory after losing to Qormi and the draw with Tarxien last week. A win would put Paul Zammit’s side in second place.

Ryan Mintoff, Gianluca Calabretta and Daniel Mariano Bueno are all ruled out for the Rainbows through suspensions.

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