Precious points will be at stake on Saturday as teams chasing a place in the Championshi Pool will be in action in the four matches in programme at the Hibernians Stadium and the Victor Tedesco Stadium.
Mosta take on Hibernians, Floriana face Balzan, Naxxar Lions meet Rabat Ajax and Tarxien Rainbows play Vittoriosa Stars.
Tarxien R. vs Vittoriosa S., kick-off 14:00 at Hibernians Stadium
Tarxien and Vittioriosa both eye the three points from this clash between the teams lying third and second from bottom. The Rainbows have gone five matches without a win, collecting only a point in a draw with Sliema. They lost 1-2 to Valletta in their last outing. Vittoriosa, on the other hand, lost six of the last seven matches. They lost 0-1 to Naxxar last week.
William Barbosa is set to make his debut for Tarxien Rainbows after the former Valletta midfielder joined the club from First Division side St. Andrews. Steve Bonnici and Ronaille Calheira Seara will be back after serving a one-match ban. Vittoriosa welcome back Filipe Aguiar and Clive Brincat and could have Italian defender Federico Santaguida making his first appearance after joining the club from Qormi.
In the first round, the two teams shared the spoils in a 2-2 draw.
Hibernians vs Mosta, kick-off 16:00 at Hibernians Stadium
Third-placed Hibernians suffered a major setback in the challenge for the championship after losing two key players – defender Rodolfo Soares and striker Marcelo Dias who joined Al-Ahed in Lebanon on loan until the end of the season. They returned to winning ways last week thanks to a 2-0 win over Balzan.
Mosta, on the other hand, collected just one point from the last three matches after losing to Birkirkara and Balzan, holding Sliema in a 1-1 draw. They are currently sixth, one point behind Naxxar and two ahead of Floriana. Against the Paolites, they could not count on the suspended Bojan Kaljevic.
In the first round, Hibernians defeated Mosta 2-0.
Floriana vs Balzan, kick-off 14:00 at Victor Tedesco Stadium
After losing 0-3 to Birkirkara, Floriana hope to bounce back with a win over Balzan after falling seventh, two points behind Mosta and three behind Naxxar. Balzan lie five points behind the Greens and a defeat on Saturday would almost rule out their chances of securing a top-six finish. They won just one of the last five matches, earning another point in a draw.
Pedro Henrique dos Santos Calcado returns for Balzan after leaving the club last February. Floriana, on the other hand, should have Brazilian defender Rodrigo Felix Aguiar making his debut. Emmanuel Ibok Edet returns for the Greens after serving a one-match ban.
The first round clash ended in a goalless draw.
Naxxar L. vs Rabat A., kick-off 16:15 at Victor Tedesco Stadium
Naxxar Lions target a fourth consecutive win after defeating Tarxien, Valletta and Vittoriosa in the last three matches to move fifth, closer to securing a place in the Championship Pool. Rabat held Qormi in a goalless draw last week but remain anchored at the bottom of the table.
Making his debut for Naxxar will be Argentine defender David Alejandro Reano who replaces Evaldo Silva dos Santos who moved back to Brazil. Andre Rocha da Silva will be back after serving a suspension. Rabat, on the other hand, are yet to make any January signings after releasing Moises Avila Perez and losing Clifford Gauci.
In the first round, Naxxar defeated Rabat 2-1.
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