New season set to kick off with same favourites

Thursday, August 18, 2011, 9:33

by Joshua Cacciattolo

A new BOV Premier League season gets underway tomorrow at the Ta’ Qali National Stadium and it seems that it should be one of the most interesting, if not entertaining, campaigns of late seasons.

Several clubs, including the three promoted teams, have strengthened their ranks considerably and it’s evident that there will be a big battle for the honours this season.

From what we have seen during the summer transfer market, I firmly believe that it will be favourites Valletta and Birkirkara this year who will battle it out for the title. While I consider Sliema, Floriana and Hibernians to be well equipped to offer a very strong challenge.

The campaign starts on Friday night as title challengers Birkirkara take on Qormi at the National Stadium in Ta Qali; kick off is at 18.30. The Stripes under the guidance of Patrick Curmi, who last year was Marsaxlokk’s mentor, will start as favourites to bag the three points and also celebrate the Saint Helen feast in the best of ways. Birkirkara made several signings over the past few months as goalkeeper Jorge Mora returned to the fold, and they also signed Maltese international Gareth Sciberras alongside promising youngster Leighton Grech. They lost captain Michael Galea as he returned to Melita FC. Spanish striker Moises is set to be the new protagonist for the Stripes.

Qormi has lost the services of Michael Mifsud, as he signed for Valletta, and Stefan Giglio, and it is yet to be seen whether their substitutes will prove to be an effective duo. Their main signings were goalkeeper Steve Sultana, experienced defender Jeffrey Chetcuti and they are also awaiting the international clearance for Shola Haruna.

The second match is definitely this weekend top match as Danilo Doncic’s Sliema take on Mark Miller’s Hibernians at the National Stadium; kick off 20.30. Here one will be able to assess whether the performances of the two teams in the pre-season were just a fluke. From what has been seen in these early matches, it is obvious that the clubs have made some very good signings, especially with regards to their foreign players.

Hibernians re-signed Clayton Failla from Sliema, while their other newcomers include Edison Dos Santos Tarabai, Douglas Costa, Rodolfo Dos Santos, Mariano Dias and also Steve Pisani on a permanent deal.

On their part, Sliema have been very active in the summer transfer market and they made a number of signings which should lift the club from the wilderness of the past season. The Blues signed Brazilian Jorge Santos Silva, midfielder Rumen Galabov, Cleaven Frendo, striker Danial Mitev, goalkeeper Anthony Curmi, Ryan Grech and Timothy Thomas.

On Saturday, the first match is at the Corradino Stadium where Marsaxlokk will take on newly promoted Mosta; kick off 18.30. The Southsiders start as slightly favourites against the newcomers. Marsaxlokk almost changed the squad as new coach Winston Muscat alongside president Robert Micallef signed Emiliano Lattes, Patrick Borg, Obinna Obiefule, Sacha Borg, Carlos Campagnoli  amongst others.

Newcomers Mosta also made some changes as they signed Melita defender Rudi Alinho, midfielders Kurt Magro and Sheldon Grech, and also signed Valletta’s prolific Ian Zammit. The Blues under Oliver Spiteri’s guidance also signed Diego Maradona Pedriggi while Nicola Bogdanovic was confirmed.

Floriana will start off against the newly promoted Mqabba in the second match;  kick off at 20.30. The Greens have almost changed all their foreigners  and the newcomers, goalkeeper William Amaoo and striker Boris Odwong could be set for their debuts alongside John Mintoff and Manuel Bartolo who are their new signings.

Mqabba have made a bold effort to strengthen the side so that they can give a good challenge to the other clubs. Among a host of acquisitions are James Paris, Clayton Micallef, Marko Potezica, Andrew Scicluna, goalkeeper Franklin Azzopardi and also confirmed Thiago Mazzitelli and Branislav Timotic among their foreigners.

Another four teams will be in action on Sunday as Hamrun Spartans take on Balzan Youths at the National Stadium; kick off 18.30. Hamrun Spartans, this year under Jesmond Zammit’s guidance, strengthened their lineup considerably, with the signing of Gianluca Calabretta, Anderson Mendes Ribiero, Kevin Sammut and also goalkeeper Omar Borg on loan from Birkirkara amongst others. Hamrun start as slightly favourites against Balzan who practically held on to last season’s players, most of them on loan from Valletta.

In the last game of the first day, Champions Valletta start as hot favourites against Tarxien Rainbows and the Citizens are on high following their 3-0 Super Cup final win against Floriana a couple of days ago. Valletta have made their ambitions very clear to win back to back titles as coach Jesmond Zerafa and President Victor Sciriha continued to bolster the squad with the signings of William Barbosa, Alfred Effiong, Ossesuni Zongo, Matthew Towns and the man of the moment Michael Mifsud.

Tarxien lost two of their Brazilians of last season. Cristiano Rodriguez returned to Australia while playmaker Sergio Pacheco was released early from his contract. But they have more Brazilians in their ranks this season, among them Garcia Suguino Caio, Rodrigo Andreas Galvao and Roberto Saraiva Fagun­des as Daniel Mariano Bueno, Everton Pereira and Ricardo Costa were confirmed for another season. Noel Coleiro was also active on the local market as he signed goalkeeper Nicholas Vella, Carl Pulo, Stefan Giglio and Adrian Carabott as goalkeeper David Cassar was signed on permanent deal.

Fixtures

19-8-11 18.30 Birkirkara Qormi National Stadium
19-8-11 20.30 Sliema W Hibernians National Stadium
20-8-11 18.30 Marsaxlokk Mosta Corradino Stadium
20-8-11 20.30 Floriana Mqabba Corradino Stadium
21-8-11 18.30 Balzan Y Hamrun S. National Stadium
21-8-11 20.30 Valletta Tarxien R. National Stadium




2 Comments

  1. furjaniz says:

    ha isir fantasy football?

    [Reply]

  2. James says:

    Hamrun Spartans will also be well equipped to offer a very strong challenge!! Like Valletta and Birkirkara!!!

    [Reply]

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