Balzan hope to bounce back in difficult Valletta test

Following a 1-3 defeat to Floriana last week, Balzan will be hoping to bounce back as they take on Valletta in one of two BOV Premier League matches in programme on Sunday.

The defeat to Floriana cost Balzan the top spot but Hibernians took full advantage last week but following the Paolites’ surprise draw in the top-bottom clash with Pembroke on Saturday, a win for Balzan on Sunday would hand them joint-leadership.

However this will be no easy task as Valletta, who are coming from a positive run of eight matches without defeat, would move second, two points behind Hibernians and one ahead of Balzan in case of a win. In their last outing they defeated Pembroke 3-0.

For Valletta, Steve Borg and Valdo Alhinho are recovering from injuries while Luke Montebello could feature in squad after returning with the club from Pembroke. Balzan, on the other hand, could not count on the suspended Dylan Grima and Alan da Silva Souza and the injured Justin Grioli and Paul Fenech.

The first round clash between Balzan and Valletta ended in a 2-2 draw.

Meanwhile in the first match, Nikola Jaros will be making his debut as new Birkirkara coach as the Stripes take on Sliema Wanderers.

After winning just one game out of the last five league matches and being eliminated from the FA Trophy, Birkirkara sacked Drazen Besek and acted swiftly by appointing his assistant Nikola Jaros as their new coach. The Stripes lie nine points behind leaders Hibernians and are therefore desperate for points in order to re-join the battle for honours.

Sliema, who have already defeated Birkirkara 2-1 in the first round, returned to winning ways last week thanks to a narrow win over neighbours Gzira. They are currently sixth on 20 points, four behind Birkirkara.

Joseph Zerafa will be back for Birkirkara after serving a one-match ban but Nikola Vukanac and Srdjan Dimitrov are both suspended. Mark Scerri is ruled out through suspension for Sliema.