All eyes will be on the National Stadium on Sunday as champions and leaders Birkirkara take on Valletta and Mosta face Naxxar Lions. Two games of utmost importance for one reason or another.
Leaders Birkirkara registered thirteen consecutive wins and seek a record of fourteen wins to match the record established by Floriana in the then First Division 1961/62 campaign when the Greens won the championship with a hundred percent record of fourteen wins in fourteen matches.
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In these thirteen matches, the Stripes scored thirty-six, suffering ten goals. They lead by six points over the Citizens and therefore a win would put them nine points ahead of Valletta.
However Valletta are determined to spoil Birkirkara’s party and will be all out to get points from the game. They scored ten goals in the last two matches, defeating Vittoriosa Stars 4-0 and Rabat Ajax 6-1 in their last two outings.
Luke Dimech, Denni Rocha dos Santos and Lateef Elford-Alliyu are all ruled out injured for the Citizens who will have Dutch coach Andre Paus sitting on the bench along with Mark Miller. However after the signing of five new players on the January transfer window deadline, namely goalkeeper Nukri Revishvili, midfielders Irkali Maisuradze and Vladimir Rassulov and strikers Alan da Silva Souza and Abayomi Owonikoko Seun, there should be some new faces in the squad on Sunday. Goalkeeper Nukri Revishvili is in fact set to make his debut.
Birkirkara will also have a new face in squad – Brazilian striker Ronaille Calheira Seara – who joined the club from Tarxien Rainbows in exchange for Demba Toure. Joseph Zerafa is ruled out through suspension while Rowen Muscat and Nikola Vukanac were nursing injuries.
In the first round, Birkirkara defeated Valletta 1-0.
Photo: Copyright © Paul Zammit Cutajar
The first clash in programme is the derby between Mosta and Naxxar Lions.
Not only derby honours will be at stake as while Mosta have already secured their Championship Pool status, Naxxar, who were promoted from Division 1 last season, are hoping to make it to the top-six as well. They are currently seventh and one point behind Balzan. A win would therefore put them back in sixth place while a draw would put them on level points with Balzan with next weekend’s games probably being decisive. Next week, Naxxar meet Hibernians and Balzan face Valletta.
The Lions lost their last two matches – suffering a heavy 1-7 defeat to Birkirkara and a 0-1 defeat in a direct clash with Balzan.
Mosta, on the other hand, are coming from three successive wins after beating Hibernians, Floriana and Qormi in the last three matches.
The Blues may have new signings Ian Zammit, Antonio Carrozza and Takeda Tukauma in squad as Dyson Falzon and Bojan Kaljevic are ruled out injured and Gianmarco Piccioni is suspended. Naxxar, on the other hand, should have Nigerian midfielder Raimi Bakare making his debut after joining the club following a short spell with Valletta.
Mosta defeated Naxxar 4-2 in the first round.
The Police Commissioner issued a statement with regards to security arrangements for these matches.
Mosta and Valletta supporters should enter Ta’ Qali from the Rabat road, in the direction of the Aviation Museum and use the parking in front of the Enclosure. West Stand C and Millennium Stand D will be reserved for Mosta and Valletta supporters
Naxxar and Birkirkara supporters should enter Ta’ Qali from Pitkali Road, Attard, in the direction of the Model Aircraft airfield and park along the road leading to the stadium and the parking area close to the ASM Club House and MFA Training Grounds. West Stand A and Millennium Stand F will be reserved for Naxxar and Birkirkara supporters.