The FA Trophy competition takes centre-stage this weekend as the four quarter-finals will be played on Saturday and Sunday. The last-eight line-up is a mix of thoroughbreds, hopefuls and also one giant-killer as SK Victoria Wanderers will be looking to cause another surprise when they face Premier League side Pembroke Athleta on Sunday.
Sliema Wanderers, the FA Trophy holders and record 21-time winners, will harbour high hopes of advancing to the semi-finals as they meet Division One side Senglea Athletic in the first quarter-final on Saturday at the Hibernians Stadium.
Coach John Buttigieg is unlikely to underestimate Senglea who pulled off a massive upset in the third round after eliminating Premier League heavyweights Hibernians 3-2.
In the previous round, Sliema Wandereras eased past Qrendi, beating them 5-0, while Senglea advanced with a 2-1 victory over neighbours Vittoriosa Stars.
Balzan, who lost on penalties to Sliema Wanderers in last season’s final, take on fellow BOV Premier League side Tarxien Rainbows in what promises to be a balanced and hard-fought duel.
A last-gasp goal from Malta international Alfred Effiong, who had just come on as a substitute, secured Balzan’s passage to the quarter-finals and ended Valletta’s hopes of winning the KO honour this year.
Tarxien Rainbows had an easier path to the last eight as they beat Lija Athletic 3-0.
Another all-Premier League clash which should capture the attention of the fans of both clubs is the duel between Floriana and Ħamrun Spartans at the Natiobnal Stadium on Sunday.
The Greens, looking to win the FA Trophy for the 20th time overcame Gozitan side Għajnsielem 4-1 in the fourth round while the Spartans edged Mqabba 1-0.
SK Victoria Wanderers have already made history by becoming the first Gozitan club to reach the quarter-finals of the FA Trophy.
On Sunday, SK will be looking to extend their fairytale run but Pembroke Athleta will be optimistic about their own chances after showing significant improvement in the last few weeks.
SK Victoria Wanderers, under the charge of Mark Buttigieg, had the better of St Andrews 1-0 in the fourth round while Pembroke defeat Division One side Marsa 2-1.
Saturday, Feb. 18: (Hibs Stadium) 2pm Senglea Athletic vs Sliema Wanderers.
Sunday, Feb. 19: (Gozo Stadium) 1pm SK Victoria Wanderers vs Pembroke Athleta. (National Stadium) 2pm Balzan vs Tarxien Rainbows; 4pm Floriana vs Ħamrun Spartans.