BOV Premier League kicks-off this weekend

BOV-Premier-LeagueThe BOV Premier League 2013/14 kicks-off this weekend with two games at the National Stadium on Saturday and another four on Sunday – two at the National Stadium and two at the Centenary Stadium.

After winning the title in a championship decider last season, champions Birkirkara seem to be the team to beat with Hibernians, Sliema Wanderers and Valletta all considered as challengers for the title. There seems to be not much difference between the other eight teams – two of which would make it to the Championship Pool. This would probably be the last season with the current format as the MFA will soon start a fresh discussion on a new format for the BOV Premier League.

In Saturday’s matches, Rabat Ajax take on Birkirkara while newly-promoted Vittoriosa Stars face Balzan.

Rabat Ajax vs Birkirkara

Rabat_Ajax_FCAfter securing their Premier League status last season, Rabat Ajax will be hoping to extend their stay once again.

Under the guidance of new coach Steve D’Amato, who replaced Silvio Vella who is now assistant coach with the national team, Rabat will be aiming at avoiding relegation. Changes in the squad were quite limited. Premier League top scorer Jose Luis Armario Negrin is no longer with the club while Manuel Moral Fuster was not retained. Goalkeeper Sean Mintoff joined Floriana while Clive Brincat, Paytock Borg, Gaetano Gesualdi and Yan Cauchi, who were on loan returned with their parent clubs.

New signings include former Montenegro Under-21 international goalkeeper Pavle Velimirovic and Spanish midfielder Dani Pelaez. The latest addition should be Spanish striker Moises Avila Perez, formerly of Birkirkara and Qormi. Rabat also managed to secured the services of Jonathan Bajada on loan from Mosta.

bkara-fcAfter winning the championship and the BOV Super Cup earlier this month, Birkirkara will be all out to claim the title once again. They lost Jhonnattann Benites da Conceicao who returned to Brazil and Rodrigo Pereira who joined Balzan, Yosimar Hernandez and Joselito dos Reis were not retained while Nikola Vukanac is eyeing a move back to Serbia.

New signings include strikers Demba Toure and Frank Temile. Defenders Richard and Jonathan Maciel who were part of the Birkirkara squad in this early part of the season were not retained and currently have another two central defenders Daniel Achi and Matheus for a trial. Making his return with the club is Terence Vella after an eighteen-month loan spell with Mosta first and Hamrun later.

Winning all major honours is definitely the main objective for the Stripes and considering their performance in the UEFA Champions League qualifiers and the BOV Super Cup, they have what it takes to be among the main challengers for the title.

Vittoriosa Stars vs Balzan

Vittoriosa-StarsRetaining Premier League status will be the main objective for newly-promoted Vittoriosa Stars.

After confirming Ramon dos Santos and Marcelo Pereira, the Stars who will be led once again by coach Oliver Spiteri, secured the services of Brazilian midfielder Marcio Teruel and Colombian midfielder Oscar Guerrero. However they lost Gary Muir to Floriana.

Vittoriosa also signed Gilbert Martin, Ryan Mifsud and Clive Spiteri from Fgura, Marsaxlokk and Pietà Hotspurs respectively. Samir Arab and Siraj Arab are back with the Stars on a one-year loan. Michael Camilleri joins the club on a one-year loan from Birkirkara.

balzan-fcBalzan, on the other hand, have a completely new squad as only four players were retained from last season. This meant the departure of Jonathan Francica, Bjorn Bondin, Jamie Pace, Stefan Giglio, Christian Caruana goalkeepers Matthew Camilleri and Fredrick Tabone and Malta international defender Jacob Borg, apart from foreigners Renato Conceicao, Elie Moises Akui N’Dekre and Matthew Mendy.

Under the guide of coach Riccardo Tumiatti who replaced Ivan Zammit late last season, they signed goalkeeper Michael Falzon, defenders Steve Bezzina, Justin Grioli, Godwin Mckay and Andrew Scicluna, midfielders Mark Spiteri, Luke Sciberras and Gianluca Calabretta. Goalkeeper Daniel Miguelez Martinez was the only foreigner to be retained with the new signings being Rodrigo Pereira, Erjon Beu, Fabio Vignaroli, Kai Risholt and Jose Luis Armario Negrin.

Although it will definitely take the new players some time to settle down, the players at the disposal of coach Riccardo Tumiatti could lead the club to doing better than last season when they had to play in the Relegation Pool.

Meanwhile the other four matches will be played on Sunday. At the National Stadium, Valletta face Mosta while Tarxien Rainbows and Hibernians cross swords in the derby. At the the same time, at the Centenary Stadium, newly-promoted Naxxar Lions face Floriana while Sliema Wanderers meet Qormi.