The BOV Premier League 2012/13 kicks-off on Saturday with the first two matches as newly-promoted Rabat Ajax take on Qormi while Sliema Wanderers face Floriana in the Old Firm derby.
Both matches will be played at the National Stadium, kick-off at 18:30 and 20:30 respectively.
Another two matches will be played at the National Stadium on Sunday while two matches at the Hibernians Stadium on Monday complete Day 1.
In the first game, newly-promoted Rabat Ajax will by trying to start the season on a positive note as they return to the Premier League after an absence of eleven years.
After securing promotion to the Premier League after finishing as runners-up in Division 1, the club concentrated its efforts on signing foreign players after releasing Joe Cornforth, Vilson Caushi and Arlindo Rustemi. They lured back to Malta Montenegrin defender Ivan Carapic and German defensive midfielder Heiner Backhaus and signed Spanish striker Manuel Moral Fuster and Lithuanian forward Nerijus Astrauskas. The only new Maltese players in the Rabat squad are defenders Clive Brincat and Gaetano Gesualdi. Coach Silvio Vella has been confirmed.
Qormi, on the other hand, lost key players like captain Joseph Farrugia and Jorge Pereira da Silva. However new signings include Under-21 internationals Leighton Grech and Matthew Gauci, striker Gaetan Spiteri and two new foreigners from Italy and Argentina. Avoiding relegation is expected to be the main objective of Stephen Azzopardi’s side.
Meanwhile the second clash is the derby Sliema Wanderers vs Floriana – two teams who went through a number of changes this summer.
The Blues had appointed Clive Mizzi as their new coach but after his resignation over a disagreement with the club, they were quick to appoint an Italian coach Alfonso Greco. They signed former Mqabba defender Branislav Timotic, Omar El Ghaouti who had played for Birkirkara in the Euro Cup together with three Argentine and an Italian player. Other new signings include former captain Ivan Woods who returns with the club from Floriana, goalkeeper Glenn Zammit and midfielder David Fenech. Steve Bezzina, Ryan Grech, Daniel Mitev, Emiliano Lattes and Trevor Cilia moved elsewhere.
Floriana, on the other hand, lost Manolito Micallef, Ivan Woods and foreigners Patrick Jansen, Eric Akoto, Pablo Doffo, Andre Grabowski, Onome Sodje and Alandson da Silva. However following the recent appointment of Englishman Mark Wright, they secured the services of Trevor Cilia – who returns with the club after playing for Birkirkara and Sliema, Kane Farrugia and foreigners Carl Tremarco, Aman Verma and Valdo Alhinho. Akanni-Sunday Wasiu is also on the verge of re-joining the club.
As both clubs managed to attract investment from Italy and England respectively, they will be aiming high, at least for a place in European competitions next summer.