Balzan seek win to extend unbeaten run

Leaders Balzan hope to make it fifteen positive results in a row with a win as they take on Sliema Wanderers at the Hibernians Stadium in one of the four matches in programme on Saturday.

Valletta hope to keep the pace with the leaders with a win over Naxxar Lions, Gzira United will be all out to bounce back as they take on Tarxien Rainbows while Hamrun Spartans seek another positive result as they face St. Andrews.

Gzira United vs Tarxien Rainbows, kick-off 14:00 at Hibernians Stadium
After suffering a highly disappointing 0-4 defeat to Birkirkara, Gzira will be al out to return to winning ways in their bid to keep the pace with Valletta and Balzan. They lost two out of the last four matches which saw them lose ground, although they are still third. Tarxien, on the other hand, lost seven out of the last eight matches and are currently joint-second from bottom. They are coming from a 0-2 defeat to Floriana last week.

The Maroons welcome back Roderick Briffa and Amadou Samb but Zachary Scerri and Ndubuisi Emmanuel Okoye are suspended. Tarxien could not count on Sean Cipriott and Ebiabowei Baker but Luke Grech will be back after serving a one-match ban.

In the first round, Gzira defeated Tarxien 2-1.

Sliema Wanderers vs Balzan, kick-off 16:00 at Hibernians Stadium
Leaders Balzan will be aiming for an eighth win in nine matches as they take on Sliema. Sliema, on the other hand, earned just two points from the last three matches after draws with Mosta and Naxxar and a defeat to Senglea. They are currently joint-fifth on 25 points, nine behind the leaders.

For Sliema, Mark Scerri and Ricardo Calixto Correa Duarte are suspended. However the squad was strengthened with the signing of Italian goalkeeper Antonio Cotticelli and Ghanaian defender Nii Nortery Ashong. Balzan could have Ivan Bozovic making his debut.

The Wanderers held Balzan in a goalless draw in the first round.

Hamrun Spartans vs St. Andrews, kick-off 14:00 at Victor Tedesco Stadium
Hamrun could move fifth, at least temporarily, should they beat St. Andrews who lost seven out of the last nine matches and share the second place from bottom with Tarxien.

Tiago Souza da Silveira and Triston Caruana are unavailable for Hamrun as they serve a one-match ban. They have now secured the services of Alex Nilsson from Birkirkara. St. Andrews welcome back Kemmu Degran Jackson and Innocent Tano Azian

The Spartans registered a 2-1 win in the first round.

Naxxar Lions vs Valletta, kick-off 16:15 at Victor Tedesco Stadium
Valletta seek maximum points from the clash with Naxxar as they maintain the challenge for the championship. Valletta won three out of the last four matches while Naxxar won just one out of the last seven matches but held Balzan and Sliema in draws in their last two matches.

Naxxar’s Angus Buhagiar and Valletta’s Joseph Zerafa are ruled out through suspension. However Steve Borg and Oussenyou Ndoye will be back for Valletta and Naxxar respectively. Valletta could have Argentine striker Miguel Angel Alba making his debut. New faces in the Naxxar squad are Brazilian Matheus Veríssimo Casarotto and Algerian midfielder Djilali Belhadj.

Valletta were held in a goalless draw by Naxxar in the first round.