After being held in a draw by Floriana, Birkirkara face another difficult task as they take on Balzan in one of the two BOV Premier League matches in programme at the National Stadium on Saturday.
The Stripes are currently third, two points behind Hibernians and eight behind leaders Valletta. Before last week’s draw with Floriana, they managed to win five consecutive games against Pembroke, Mosta, Qormi, Sliema and St. Andrews. Their opponents on Saturday, Balzan, won the last four matches, defeating Mosta, St. Andrews, Qormi and Sliema. These wins put Oliver Spiteri’s side three points behind the Stripes.
No players are suspended but Birkirkara are still without the injured Ryan Scicluna and Edward Herrera while new strikers Matija Smrekar and L’Imam Seydi could make their debut.
In the first round, Birkirkara defeated Balzan 4-1.
Meanwhile in the second match, Hibernians take on Sliema Wanderers.
The Paolites unexpectedly dropped two points in a draw with bottom-placed St. Andrews last week and are therefore eager to return to winning ways on Saturday but this will be no easy task for Branko Nisevic’s side as although the Blues suffered defeats to Floriana, Birkirkara and Balzan last week, the signing of a number of players on the last day of the transfer window must have definitely boosted their morale.
Jean Paul Farrugia and Denni Rocha dos Santos are set to make their first appearance against their former team. Also in line for their debut are Armando Vieira dos Santos and Njongo Priso. The other new signing, Albert Bruce, however, is still recovering from an injury. Also ruled out injured is Saviour Fidelis while Stefano Bianciardi is suspended.
Hibs welcome back Andrei Agius, Diosdado Mbele and Marcelo Dias but Jonathan Pearson and Gilmar are suspended while Rui da Gracia Gomes, Jorge da Silva Pereira and new signing Justin Haber are all recovering from injuries.
In the first round, Sliema and Hibs shared the spoils in a 2-2 draw.