The BOV Premier League campaign 2019/20 kicks-off on Friday with the first four matches – two at the National Stadium and another two at the Centenary Stadium.
Four games which will see in action champions Valletta against newly-promoted Santa Lucia, ambitious Gzira United take on their coach Giovanni Tedesco’s former team Hamrun Spartans, Birkirkara cross swords with Floriana and another of the newly-promoted teams – Sirens face Senglea Athletic.
Sirens vs Senglea Athletic, kick-off 18:30 at Centenary Stadium
After securing promotion to the BOV Premier League as champions of the BOV First Division last season, Sirens start this new adventure under the guidance of coach Steve D’Amato. The squad has been strengthened with the signing of five Brazilian players – four of whom have already played in the BOV Premier League, namely Flavio Cheveresan, Sergio Raphael, Thiaguinho, Wellington Petinha and Romeu Romao. They also signed goalkeeper David Cassar, defender Adrian Borg, midfielder Luke Sciberras and forward Siraj Arab Eddin. Manuel Angel Bustos was retained.
Aiming to retain their Premier League status should be Sirens’ main objective for this coming season.
Senglea Athletic revamped their squad after retaining their place among the elite. Following the departure of coach Vincenzo Potenza who joined Floriana, Mario Muscat, assisted by Steven Vella, will be leading the team. Foreigners like Taisei Marukawa and Gonzalo Nicolas Virano were confirmed while Marcelo Dias, Jose Wilkson Teixeira Rocha, Mahamadou Cisse, Elvis Sakyi, Sigitas Olberkis and Wilfried Zamble Bi Koihy joined the club. They also signed Dejan Debono, Connor Zammit, David Xuereb, Sean Cipriott, Karl Pulo, Manolito Micallef, Jan Tanti, Andrei Spiteri and goalkeeper Anthony Curmi while Leighton Grech and Matthew Farrugia agreed new deals with Senglea.
Having so many changes could take the team some time to settle down but retaining Premier League status for another season will definitely be the club’s main target.
Valletta vs Santa Lucia, kick-off 20:45 at Centenary Stadium
Champions Valletta will be chasing a third consecutive championship this season, now led by coach Darren Abdilla. After some fine performances in the UEFA Champions League, the Citizens will be eager to impress once again. This summer, Valletta made minimal changes to the squad as they only signed Kevin Tulimieri, Douglas Packer and Yuri de Jesus Messias.
Santa Lucia, on the other hand, revamped their squad as they embark on this new Premier League adventure. Head Coach Oliver Spiteri could count on Brazilians Maycon de Jesus Santana, Gabriel Bohrer Mentz, Wilkerson de Souza Gomes and Kevin Pinheiro Correia, Japanese Rei Tachikawa and Colombians Farid Zuniga and Camilo del Castillo Escobar as they join the other three Colombians who played for the club last season, namely Kevin Ante Rosero, Diego Mosquera Segura, and Jackson David Usuga Mendoza. From the local market, they signed Daniel Agius, Dorian Bugeja, Omar Elouni, Jacob Walker and Jamie Zerafa while Nick Borg, Jamie Magri Overend, Neil Spiteri and veteran Lee Galea were retained for another season.
Retaining their Premier League status will be the main objective for Santa Lucia.
Gzira United vs Hamrun Spartans, kick-off 18:30 at National Stadium
Ambitious Gzira United start their Premier League campaign with a clash with rivals Hamrun Spartans in a match which will put coach Giovanni Tedesco against his former club and also against his former colleague at Perugia – new Hamrun Spartans coach Manuele Blasi.
The Maroons signed Arthur Henrique Oyama, Hamed Kone and Jefferson de Assis together with Myles Beerman, Martin Davis, Romario Camilleri and Ryoto Yokokawa. After two consecutive third-place finishes, Gzira United will be aiming for something better, hoping to lift their first major trophy since winning the FA Trophy in 1973.
Hamrun Spartans also went through a number of changes this summer. Manuele Blasi was appointed as coach while new signings include goalkeeper Jean Claude Debattista and veteran defender Clayton Failla and foreigners Nicola Leone, Matteo Cinquini, Nestor Eduardo Melo Ferreira, Ailton Jorge dos Santos Soares, Lagzir Souflaine and Carlos Manuel Flores.
The Spartans should be aiming to finish in the top half of the table and hopefully for a place in the UEFA Europa League next summer.
Birkirkara vs Floriana, kick-off 20:30 at National Stadium
Following a high-profile transfer campaign, Birkirkara will be hoping to challenge for the title once again this season. The squad at the disposal of coach John Buttigieg has been strengthened with the signing of goalkeeper Nicky Vella, Enrico Pepe, Roderick Briffa, Isaac Ntow, Renato Goncalves de Lima, Jeferson De Sousa Ferreira, Oscar Matias Carniello, Caio Henrique Prado, Yannick Yankam, Miguel Angel Alba, Edison Luis dos Santos and Federico Falcone.
Floriana, on the other hand, are now led by coach Vincenzo Potenza. They had an intensive transfer campaign during which they managed to sign Moustapha Beye, Matias Nicolas Garcia, Francisco Diego Venancio da Silva, Tiago Adan Fonseca, Augusto René Cáseres, Romário Lucas Menezes de Araújo, Brandon Paiber, Ryan Camenzuli, Jan Busuttil and goalkeeper Andrea Cassar. The squad has therefore been strengthened considerably as the Greens eye a return to European football next summer.