Balzan hope to extend lead as Hibernians take on Valletta

Leaders Balzan hope to extend the lead on top the BOV Premier League table as they take on Gzira United in one of four BOV Premier League matches in programme at the Hibernians Stadium and the National Stadium on Sunday.

Second-placed Hibernians face Valletta, Birkirkara take on Pembroke Athleta while Tarxien Rainbows meet Sliema Wanderers.

Tarxien Rainbows vs Sliema Wanderers, kick-off 14:00 at Hibernians Stadium
After beating Hamrun Spartans 3-2 in their last outing, Tarxien aim for another positive result as they take on a Sliema side which is coming from a 1-1 draw with St. Andrews in their last game. Six points separate the two teams with the Wanderers lying in sixth place on 2 points and the Rainbows ninth.

Alex Muscat and Peter Xuereb are suspended for Sliema. Tarxien, on the other hand, welcomed back Sergio Fernandes Prendes after serving a one-match ban and Ayrton Azzopardi following a long-term injury.

Sliema defeated Tarxien 2-1 in the first round.

Gzira United vs Balzan, kick-off 16:00 at Hibernians Stadium
Balzan will be aiming for a fourth win in six matches as they take on Gzira who are coming from a goalless draw with Pembroke following a fine 3-0 win over Mosta. The leaders, on the other hand, defeated Hibernians 2-1 in their last outing to regain the top spot before the Christmas break.

Souleymane Diamoutene returns for Gzira after serving a suspension while Ian Azzopardi, Louis Rene Zome, Abdullahi Ige Adeshina and Emerson Amaira could make their debut after joining the club earlier this week. Balzan signed Serbian attacking midfielder Milos Lepovic who is also set to make his first appearance. Elkin Serrano, Bojan Kaljevic and Alfred Effiong are suspended but they welcome back Samir Arab.

Balzan defeated Gzira 3-1 in the first round.

Birkirkara vs Pembroke Athleta, kick-off 14:00 at National Stadium
After beating Mosta 2-0 on Wednesday, Birkirkara will be all out for another three points as they take on bottom-placed Pembroke Athleta who won just one out of their last ten matches and are coming from a goalless draw with Gzira.

Henry Bonello is set to start in goal following the transfer from Valletta. Pembroke coach Artim Shaqiri could not count on the suspended Ugochukwo Akuta, Asani Djeljilj and Filippo Andrea Scozzese but Daren Falzon and former Vittoriosa striker Arber Dhrami are set to make their first appearance for the club.

Pembroke defeated Birkirkara 2-1 in the first round.

Hibernians vs Valletta, kick-off 16:00 at National Stadium
Hibernians are eager to bounce back from a 1-2 defeat to Balzan in their last outing which cost them the top spot and a positive result would ensure they keep the pace with the leaders. However Valletta, fresh from their BOV Super Cup win over Sliema Wanderers, will be all out to claim the three points and join the Paolites in second place on 33 points. In their last league outing, they were held in a goalless draw by Floriana.

Rowen Muscat and Lithuanian striker Tomas Radzinevicius are set to make their debut for Valletta but Michael Mifsud joined Roderick Briffa on the sidelines due to an injury. Hibs welcome back Renan Pimenta Telles but Johann Bezzina is suspended.

Hibernians defeated Valletta 2-0 in the first round.