Balzan, Hibs hope to return to winning ways

Leaders Balzan and second-placed Hibernians will be all out to return to winning ways on Saturday as they take on Hamrun Spartans and St. Andrews respectively in two of the four BOV Premier League matches in programme at the Hibernians Stadium and the Victor Tedesco Stadium.

Floriana hope to bounce back in the clash against Mosta while Sliema Wanderers face Pembroke Athleta.

Sliema Wanderers vs Pembroke Athleta, kick-off 14:00 at Hibernians Stadium
Following a shock 1-2 defeat to Mosta – the third defeat in four matches, Sliema Wanderers will be aiming for the three points on Saturday as they take on Pembroke Athleta. However the latter’s morale is high as they managed to return to winning ways last week, narrowly beating Hamrun Spartans.

The Wanderers could not count on the suspended Peter Xuereb but could have Italian defender Marco Botta making his debut. Pembroke, on the other hand, should have new recruits Fredrick Tabone and Joseph Okonkwo in squad for the first time.

Sliema defeated Pembroke 1-0 in the first round.

Hamrun Spartans vs Balzan, kick-off 16:00 at Hibernians Stadium
Despite a 2-2 draw with Tarxien, Balzan managed to extend the lead on top the BOV Premier League table to two points as Hibs lost to Birkirkara. Returning to winning ways is a must for Oliver Spiteri’s side in their bid to extending the lead further. Hamrun lost four out of the last six matches, including last week’s highly disappointing defeat to Pembroke. A defeat which leaves them in the eighth place, two behind sixth-placed Tarxien.

The Spartans signed three players on the final January transfer deadline with defender Christian Emeka Anigbogu and striker Mathieu Manset possibly making their debut on Saturday as Jorge Mesqueu Neto is ruled out through suspension. Balzan are expected to be in full strength.

In the first round, Balzan defeated Hamrun 3-1.

St. Andrews vs Hibernians, kick-off 14:00 at Victor Tedesco Stadium
St. Andrews hope to continue building on last week’s 1-1 draw with Valletta as they take on Hibernians – a team which they lost narrowly to in the first round. The draw with the Citizens was the fourth for the Saints in the last five matches. Hibs, on the other hand, missed the chance to take the top spot after losing 1-2 to Birkirkara. A win is therefore a must in order to keep the pace with the leaders.

The Paolites welcome back Gilmar on another loan deal from Naxxar Lions but Marcelo Dias is suspended. Andrew Cohen is no longer in squad following his switch to Gzira United. St. Andrews could not count on the suspended Joseph Farrugia.

Floriana vs Mosta, kick-off 16:15 at Victor Tedesco Stadium
After back-to-back defeats to Sliema Wanderers and Gzira United, Floriana are desperate for the three points as they take on Mosta. The Greens won just one out of the last six matches, losing ground in the table as they now lie nine points behind the leaders. Mosta, on the other hand, ended a four-month drought as they registered their first win since September, defeating Sliema 2-1.

On Tuesday, Mosta signed Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza and foreigners César Romer and Josué Ahouré, apart from welcoming back Tyrone Farrugia and Jonas Rodrigues Ekani. However Farrugia is unable to make his debut as he serves a three-match ban. Kurt Magro, Kyle Frendo and Adrian Caruana are also suspended. Floriana, on the other hand, welcome back Enzo Ruiz but Antonio Monticelli serves a one-match ban.

In the first round, Floriana defeated Mosta 1-0.