The BOV Premier League 2021/22 kicks-off on Thursday as Balzan take on Sliema Wanderers at the Tony Bezzina Stadium, kick-off at 20:00.
Spectators will be back to watch Premier League matches for the first time since March 2020 although the number will be limited to 200 per sector and in the case of the Tony Bezzina Stadium, a total of 460 spectators could attend and tickets are being sold online on https://tickets.mfa.com.mt
Last season, the Premier League campaign for Balzan was far from impressive. When the league was interrupted on March 11, Balzan were lying in tenth place with 27 points from 23 matches.
With Mark Miller still guiding the team as coach, Balzan did not make much changes to the squad. They signed Serbian defender Milos Zlatkovic, Serbian midfielder Milos Mijic, Brazilian winger Alex da Paixao Alves and Montenegrin striker Bojan Kaljevic and added Rudy Briffa as back-up goalkeeper. Sean Mintoff and Alfred Effiong moved to Sirens while Moussa Sanoh was not retained.
Players like Steve Bezzina, Paul Fenech, Samir Arab, Michael Johnson, foreigners Milan Djuric, Uros Ljubomirac, Aleksa Andrejic and goalkeeper Vukasin Vranes continue to form the backbone of the squad.
During pre-season, they played a number of friendly matches. They defeated Sirens 1-0, drew 0-0 with Valletta, lost 1-8 to Mosta and 1-2 to Hamrun but then defeated Nadur 6-0, losing 0-3 to Sliema and defeating Tarxien Rainbows 4-1.
Sliema, on the other hand, went through wholesale changes this summer. Andrea Pisanu was lately confirmed as coach and since then, they started a shopping spree in order to strengthen their squad.
They lost two high-profile local players in Michele Sansone and Alex Satariano who joined Valletta and Frosinone respectively while goalkeeper Jake Galea is no longer a Sliema Wanderers player after his contract expired. Foreigners Alessandro Milesi, Arthur Cunha da Rocha, Ruslan Kisil and Denilson left the club or were not retained.
New arrivals include goalkeeper David Cassar, João Miguel Fernandes de Lima, Carlos Manuel Flores, Inters Gui, Juan Pablo Morales, Matheus Freitas, Warsama Hassan Houssein, Yuki Uchida and Raphael Kooh Sohna. Myles Beerman joins the club on a permanent transfer from Hibernians while Luke Borg and Omar Elouni return with the club after spells on loan with St. Andrews and Gzira.
In three friendly matches, the Wanderers defeated Gudja United 2-1, Balzan 3-0 and Swieqi United 4-0.