Narrow defeat for Balzan to HNK Rijeka

As part of the team’s preparation ahead of the UEFA Europa League first qualifying round, Balzan are currently in Croatia where they played against one of the top Croatian sides HNK Rijeka in a friendly match on Friday. Balzan lost 1-2 to the Croatian First Division runners-up.

Jakov Puljić put Rijeka ahead on the 4th minute but Milos Lepovic equalised nine minutes in the second half. However Boadu Maxwell Acosty notched the winner two minutes from time.

The Balzan line-up featured new signings Uruguayan defender Ricardo Calixto Correa Duarte and Serbian midfielder Nenad Šljivić. Dale Camilleri and Neil Frendo, formerly of Hamrun and Mosta respectively, were included as substitutes. Also included as substitutes were Sean Cipriott and Macedonian Antonio Mitrev who were on loan with Tarxien last season.

The club has also signed goalkeeper Steve Sultana and Serbian striker Andrija Majdevac.

Ricardo Calixto Correa Duarte joins the club after a short spell with Gzira early in season 2016/17 and an 18-month spell with Sliema Wanderers. Thirty-three year old Nenad Šljivić is an experienced Serbian central midfielder who played for Trayal Kruševac and Napredak Kruševac in Serbia before moving to Rostov in Russia and following a spell with Jagodina in Serbia, he spent five years with FC Tobol in Kazakhstan. He then returned to Serbia where he played for Spartak Subotica and again with Napredak Kruševac. Twenty-year old Andrija Majdevac is also a product of Napredak Kruševac, having two spells on loan at Temnić and one at Dinamo Vranje. His last club was FK Inijija.

Since last season, Ivan Janjusevic, Bruno de Giglio Oliveira, Clive Brincat, Ryan Fenech, Paul Fenech and Terence Agius all moved elsewhere.

In the UEFA Europa League, Balzan will be facing Keşla FK of Azerbaijan in the second qualifying round while Rijeka enter the competition in the third qualifying round.