Leaders Hibernians face another important test as they take on Birkirkara in one of the two BOV Premier League matches in programme on Saturday at the National Stadium.
With a 4-0 win over Balzan in their last outing, the Paolites extended their unbeaten record to nineteen matches, registering the eleventh consecutive win. Against Birkirkara, Hibs will therefore seek win number twelve and positive result number twenty. However improving their performance over the 3-1 FA Trophy win over Nadur Youngsters on Wednesday is definitely a must.
Birkirkara are coming from four consecutive wins over Qormi, Mosta, Tarxien and Floriana and cannot afford suffering a defeat as they are currently in second place with Valletta, fifteen points behind the Paolites. In the FA Trophy fourth round, they scored three late goals to beat Siggiewi 3-0.
Nikola Vukanac and Matheus Bissi da Silva return for Birkirkara after serving a one-match ban while Bosnian goalkeeper Mirza Hamzabegovic could make his debut after joining the club earlier this week. Apart from Rui de Gracia Gomez who is on international duty in the African Nations Cup, Hibs will be lacking the injured Marcelo Dias.
In the first round, Hibs defeated Birkirkara 1-0.
Meanwhile in the first match, Mosta and Floriana cross swords in a direct clash between two teams lying in fifth place.
After suffering three consecutive defeats, Mosta bounced back with a 3-1 win over Qormi and were denied another win last week when Tarxien rescued a point in added time for a 1-1 draw. Floriana, on the other hand, lost 2-3 to Balzan and 1-2 to Birkirkara. The Greens were also eliminated from the FA Trophy as they lost 1-3 to Qormi. Mosta defeated Gzira United 4-1.
Amadou Samb is ruled out for Floriana after being suspended for four matches when he was sent off in the FA Trophy clash with Qormi. For Samb this was the third red card, apart from collecting another nine yellow cards in league matches. Manolito Micallef who joined the Greens from Mosta last week is doubtful. Mosta are expected to have Haruna Babangida making his debut but Nemanja Milovanovic is no longer available as he moved to Gzira United.
Floriana defeated Mosta 3-2 in the first round.