Two eye catching games in this BOV Premier weekender

Friday, April 5, 2019, 7:45
Match Day 23 is on its way as the BOV Premier League is edging towards a pulsating finish with four MD’s left and only one point seperating the two title contenders before two thrilling encounters coming up this weekend with Birkirkara locking horns with Hibernians on Friday, followed with the dual on Sunday at 6pm between Valletta and Gzira United.

Mark Buttigieg who started his reign as Birkirkara coach with a last minute win over Sliema Wanderers on Sunday is optimistic that the players get over the past turbulent days at the club and do their very best to obtain the minimum target of qualifying for Europe.

“The distractions over the past weeks have nothing to do with the progress the team is doing and their concentration during training.

“We are ready for this challenge, we know Hibernians need to win at all cost but we have our targets and my players are ready to silence the critics and give their 100% in this match”.

He continued, “I believe that if everyone focuses on his job, we can take points even from this encounter”.

An intriguing game for former Hibernians keeper Andrew Hogg against his former side, “we are focused we know the strength of our opponents and will be doing our utmost to build on the victory last week.

Hogg added, “I am just focused on my present, notwithstanding my days with Hibernians, my club now is Birkirkara, there is big competition in the side and must keep concentrated to win back our supporters, but above all keep our pursue for a European place next season”.

On his side Hibernians coach Stefano Sanderra who this season have done a fantastic job in his first working experience in Malta and regardless of the final outcome at the end of the season, doesn’t believe in lack of concentration in the past few games.

“Its true everyone was expecting better results lately where the team only obtained a draw in each of our last three outings with Ħamrun Spartans, Sliema Wanderers and more recently Mosta all throwing a spanner towards us in rather disappointing draws.

“Nevertheless I still believe they were good results, the team performed well and we must never forget that all teams have their different targets, hence we know its not a walk in the park and we’re expecting no favours.

Friday’s match is  rather a similar situation, Birkirkara are a strong side, they have their targets and we have to perform brilliantly if we firmly believe we can return to winning ways”.

Hibernians captain Bjorn Kristensen was also rather satisfied with the performance lately of his team.

“I totally agree with the coach, our last outings were a tough nut to crack for all of us, there were moments we were on the losing side, nevertheless our resilience to avoid defeat will definitely spur us for a stronger end of the season and keep this title challenge alive.

“After the Mosta game and the way we conceded at the end everyone was upset in the locker room, but we put that result behind us and are ready for the next challenge on Friday against a very organized side like Birkirkara”.

Meanwhile the final match in this MD programme will see leaders Valletta locking horns with third-placed Gżira United.

The Champions need to recover following their derby defeat on Sunday against Floriana.

Coach Danilo Doncic admits the result on Sunday came at the wrong time as three points would have pushed his team closer to the 25th title all Valletta faithful is optimistic about.

“At the moment we have a situation where most of our players are doubtful before Sunday, the likes of Rowen Muscat, Bogdan Gavrila and Matteo Piciollo could all be missing together with a definite absentee Miguel Angel Alba who have done so well thus far this season but will be suspended for this game against Gżira United.

Doncic said, “Our team is made up of players who can handle the pressure in such important games and therefore regardless of the injury situation I am sure I can pull together a strong enough team to bounce back from the recent setback and return to winning ways.

“The final four matches of this league are all finals, we know what it means for our supporters winning back to back titles, so we promise them we are working for that and optimistic we wont let them down”.

Forward Bojan Kaljevic added, “its been a difficult week for us but we must roll our sleeves and set the ball rolling prior to another difficult match.

Asked about his recent shortage of goals, Bojan replied, “its all about teamwork, no one at Valletta is bigger than the club so we work hard during the week to keep raising our standards, win matches, and enrich our position in the table.

“It will be an extra boost if I put my name on the scoresheet, but our main target is to obtain the best result and move the club closer to the targets set at the start of the season”.

On the other hand Gżira United coach Jesmond Zerafa believes the team who makes the least mistakes on Sunday can edge what he anticipates to be a very close encounter.

Zerafa said, “the important thing is not how we started the league, but our present form is crucial, we know that a positive result could edge us closer towards our European objective, nevertheless we are aiming to win the match to put more pressure on both title challengers.

“This is a stage of the season were I believe training sessions are not as important as the mental preparation ahead of games like these, furthermore we need to motivate each other to keep this momentum of positive results”.

Cameroon striker Justin Mengolo is settling well with the side following a slow start after joining in January, he scored a hat-trick in the recent 5-2 win over Pieta’ Hotspurs and at the moment is keeping Amadou Samb, who has recovered from a serious injury, out of the side.

“Physically I am feeling better at the beginning was not easy to settle in my new environment but I’m greatful to the President and the rest of the people at the club who welcomed me and now I’m enjoying my time at Gżira United.

“I’m aware that Valletta is the best team in Malta but we are working together to perform well on Sunday and get the best result possible to keep mounting more pressure on both title challengers prior to the final push of the league”.





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