Malta Football Association
Hibs meet top-flight debutants Gudja in opener – Preview
Aug 24, 2019
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BOV Premier League

The first matchday of the 2019-20 BOV Premier League concludes this evening (Saturday) with an interesting three-match programme.

Hibernians, runners-up last season, launch their league trek against Gudja United who are making their debut in the top flight.


Tarxien Rainbows take on Mosta while Balzan face Sliema Wanderers in a clash between two sides with high hopes of challenging for a top-four position.


Tarxien Rainbows vs Mosta (Saturday at National Stadium, 18.30)

Marko Glumac, who took over as Tarxien Rainbows coach earlier this month, hopes that his team settle quickly.


“I only joined Tarxien Rainbows two-and-a-half weeks ago and my top priority at present is to build and prepare the squad for the start of the season,” Glumac said.


“We’re still getting new players in but we’re doing what we can to be ready for our opening match. Our target is to stay in the Premier League but we will take it game by game and see how far we can go.”


Mosta will be led once again by experienced coach Mark Miller who is eyeing continuity.


“We want to attain continuity following the solid performances and positive results we had towards the end of last season,” Miller said.


“Unfortunately, we were unable to retain some players but we’ve spent the last six weeks trying to build a squad with a hard-working mentality.


“We are looking forward to our first challenge against Tarxien Rainbows, a match that will be followed by two more fixtures against teams that are more or less in our bracket – Sirens and Senglea. After the first three games of the season, we will have a clearer indication of our level.”


Gudja United vs Hibernians (Saturday at Centenary Stadium, 19.00)

This match sees Hibernians, one of the most established teams in the Premier League, take on newcomers Gudja United who ought to take heart from Santa Lucia’s surprising 3-2 victory over champions Valletta on Friday.


Stefano Sanderra, the Hibernians coach, declared that the Paolites’ target is to fight for the top positions and qualify for European competitions.


“The ambition is to challenge for a place in Europe,” the Italian said.


“This season is not going to be easy as there are several teams that are well-equipped to challenge at the top. That’s our objective as well but we also want to play good football.


“We had a positive campaign last season but it will be difficult to repeat it as we have made changes to our squad with new foreigners coming in. We are approaching the season with a sense of humility, knowing that we need to work very hard.”


Josef Mansueto hopes that Gudja United will adjust quickly to the demands of playing top-flight football.


“This is our first season in the top division and we have to adjust to this reality in a short period of time,” Mansueto said.


“We are aware that this is a huge step-up but we are positive. We are confident that with the squad we have put together during the summer and provided that the new foreigners make the desired impact, we can reach our target of keeping our place in the top league.”


Balzan vs Sliema Wanderers (Saturday at National Stadium, 20.30)

Balzan and Sliema Wanderers will be looking to start the season on a high note to set the tone for a successful campaign.


Jacques Scerri, the Balzan coach, is keen to see his team improve on their sixth-place finish last season.


“Our aim is keep moving forward, raise our standards and improve on last season’s position,” Scerri said.


“Winning the FA Trophy was a great achievement for this football club but we can’t rest on our laurels. Balzan need to build on that and work hard to translate the investment made by this football club in recent seasons into more success.”


Sliema Wanderers will once again be led by Italian coach Alfonso Greco.


“I’m very pleased about my return to Maltese football. Sliema Wanderers are close to heart, so I am very grateful to have been given this opportunity to come back,” Greco said.


“We are eagerly awaiting the start of the league as the opening matches will enable us to gauge our level and define our objectives accordingly. Our focus is on Saturday’s match, a difficult task against a very well-organised and physically prepared Balzan.”

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