Sixteen teams seek berths in quarter-finals

Published: 16-01-2012 04:10
 Over the coming weekend ten Premier League sides, four First Division, one from the Second and the other from Gozo, a total of 16 teams, will be vying for a place in the quarter-finals of the U*BET FA Trophy, a competition which has had a radical change from this season as to its format, which had all the national league teams, as well as those from Gozo, participating.   The ties, staggered throughout the season, attracted the attention of many, with the supporters of the teams in the lower echelons mustering all their backing for their favourites and hoping to upstage the more fancied sides. The same recipe is envisaged for these forthcoming clashes to be played on Saturday and Sunday. As was to be expected, the bulk of the contestants through to the fourth round are from the top brass of our national league, with only Imqabba and Tarxien Rainbows failing to reach this stage. Lija Athletic, Pieta Hotspurs, Rabat Ajax and St. Georges are the survivors from the First Division while Second Division Mellieħa and Gozo’s Xewkija Tigers complete the array. There are three ties involving six Premier teams and two matches pitting a top team with another from the First Division. The others are an all-First Division encounter, one between a Premier and a Second Division team and the other sees another Premier side facing a Gozo team.          The Sliema Wanderers v Valletta clash will undoubtedly be under the main microscope, with both outfits boasting of a fine pedigree in this competition. It will surely be the most expected match of the fourth round. Floriana, also with a glorious past in the FA Trophy, will face an improving Balzan Youths while Birkirkara and Hamrun Spartans, other recipients of this honour in past years, will take on each other. Two other teams to inscribe their names on this trophy, Premier League thoroughbreds Hibernians and Rabat Ajax from the First Division, will square up for a place in the last eight. The other ties will be between Premier sides Qormi and Marsaxlokk who will face Second Division Mellieħa, and First Division Pieta Hotspurs respectively, top division team Mosta against Xewkija Tigers from Gozo and St George’s against Lija Athletic, two teams from the second tier of our national league.       It should certainly be a very interesting weekend with the eight matches being played in three different venues, the National Stadium, the Hibernians Stadium and the Centenary Stadium. The winners will proceed to the quarter-finals scheduled for the 25th and 26th February. The programme is as follows: Saturday 21 JanuaryCentenary Stadium14:00 Marsaxlokk vs Pieta H.16:00 Mellieha vs Qormi  National Stadium14:00 Balzan Y. vs Floriana 16:00 Sliema W. vs Valletta   Sunday 22 JanuaryCentenary Stadium14:00 Mosta vs Xewkija T. 16:00 St. George's vs Lija A.  Hibernians Stadium14:00 Rabat A. vs Hibernians 16:00 Birkirkara vs Hamrun S.