With the BOV Premier League kicking-off on Saturday, the remaining eight teams will be in action on Sunday with four matches being played at two different venues.
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.
Valletta vs Mosta @ National Stadium, kick-off 18:30
Valletta will be all out to make up for last season’s disappointment, aiming for the title.
With Mark Miller starting his second season as Valletta coach, the Citizens signed six new foreigners, namely goalkeeper Pietro Marino, Gambian duo Hamza Barry and Aziz Corr Nyang, Tunisian Abdelkarim Nafti, Brazilian striker Romulo Antoneli and Nigerian striker Aud-Gustine James Obaje. Yessous Camilleri returns with the club after spending the last three years on loan with Rabat Ajax and Balzan.
Jason Vandelannoite and Denni Rocha dos Santos are the only foreigners to be retained as Gabriel da Silva, Demba Toure, Joseph Jo Jo Ogunuppe, William Barbosa, and Abubakar Bello Osagie were released. No longer on the books of the club is Malta international striker Michael Mifsud whose contract was terminated with mutual consent.
Although Danilo Doncic was confirmed as coach, Mosta went through several changes this summer.
The Blues have a completely new set of foreigners following the departure of Fabio Vignaroli, Carlos Campagnoli and Danail Mitev. They also lost Steve Bezzina to Balzan and loaned Jonathan Bajada to Rabat Ajax. From the local market, they signed goalkeeper Omar Borg on loan from Birkirkara and Ismael Grech from Pietà.
Mosta will be hoping to secure a top-six finish but this will be no easy task.
Tarxien Rainbows vs Hibernians @ National Stadium, kick-off 20:30
Another club whose squad went through several changes is Tarxien Rainbows.
Leading scorer Daniel Mariano Bueno is on the verge of joining another club while Branislav Timotic, Leandro Almeida and Andrezinho are no longer with the club. Roderick Bajada moved to Qormi, Justin Grioli signed for Balzan while Orosco Anonam and goalkeeper David Cassar joined Pietà Hotspurs.
New arrivals include Sliema Wanderers trio Luca Martinelli, Josef Mifsud and Miguel Ciantar and five new foreigners, namely Brazilians Ronaille Calheira, Fernando Lopes, Everton Souza and Jorge Santos Silva and Serbian defender Marko Potezica.
Aiming for a place in the Championship Pool is once again the main objective for the Rainbows. They hope that the new foreigners play a decisive role in helping the club achieve its targets.
U*BET FA Trophy winners Hibernians hardly involved themselves in the transfer market despite the appointment of new coach Branko Nisevic.
The Paolites retained all the players who formed part of the squad last season apart from Allan Kardeck dos Santos. Steve Pisani and Triston Caruana return with Floriana and Qormi respectively, this time taking Matthew Bartolo and young goalkeeper Jurgen Borg in return.
Although their main objective is winning the two major honours, Hibs seem to lack something especially with respect to Birkirkara.
Naxxar Lions vs Floriana @ Centenary Stadium, kick-off 18:30
Naxxar Lions will be making their return to the top division after an absence of eleven years. Eleven years during which the club ended in the Third Division but was able to bounce back.
The Lions worked hard to strengthen their squad securing the services of Andrew Decesare, Terence Scerri and Malta Under-21 international Louis Cutajar. New foreigners include former Tarxien defender Evaldo, former St. George’s striker Osi Lucky Agboebinna and Brazilian duo Gilmar and Tiago Lopes. Veteran midfielder Pablo Doffo was retained but Anderson Mendes Ribeiro and Anthony Ewurum moved elsewhere.
Naxxar will be aiming at retaining their Premier League status. Not an easy task but considering the players at the disposal of coach Winston Muscat, this is definitely not impossible.
Starting their BOV Premier League campaign with a six-point deduction following a decision by the Licensing Borad is definitely not an ideal start for Floriana. But the Greens will definitely be determined to do well this season.
Coach Ian Dawes replaces Iain Brunskill. They lost Thomas Paris and Owen Bugeja to Zebbug Rangers and Qormi respectively but Steve Pisani re-joins the club after spending the latter part of the season on loan from Hibernians. Other new arrivals include goalkeeper Sean Mintoff who played for Rabat Ajax and Jonathan Xerri of Zebbug Rangers.
Gary Roberts is the only foreigner to stay. They signed Nigerian defender Emmanuel Edet Ibok and should have another three new foreign players.
Sliema Wanderers vs Qormi @ Centenary Stadium, kick-off 20:45
Despite no major changes, Sliema Wanderers aim high after another trophy-less season.
With Alfonso Greco confirmed as coach, the Blues secured the services of Pape Guaye from Senegal, Italian striker Andrea Navarra and Nigerian forward Abubakar Bello-Osagie who played for Qormi and Valletta. Their latest signing was Malta international defender Jacob Borg.
On the other hand, they loaned three players to Tarxien Rainbows – Luca Martinelli, Josef Mifsud and Miguel Ciantar while Andrew Decesare joined Naxxar Lions.
Winning the title seems to be out of reach for the Wanderers but they definitely have what it takes to fight for a place in the UEFA Europa League next summer.
Qormi aim high this season following the appointment of new coach Tommaso Volpi. They secured the services of Roderick Bajada and Owen Bugeja from Tarxien and Floriana respectively, retaining Leighton Grech who was on loan from Birkirkara. A new signing is young Emerson Vella from Gudja United.
Their best signing so far is Italian striker Simone Bezziccheri who was on the books of Roma and Parma.
Last season’s foreigners, namely Kris Thackray, Moises Avila Perez and Abubakar Bello- Osagie were not retained with the only foreigner to stay being Alfred Effiong. Matthew Bartolo returned with Hibernians and as part of this deal, Qormi take on Triston Caruana.