The Malta Independent 26 May 2019, Sunday

BOV Premier League: Valletta and Hibernians meet today in title decider

Henry Brincat Saturday, 4 May 2019, 08:20 Last update: about 21 days ago

Valletta and Hibernians will be meeting today in a decider for this year's Bank of Valletta Premier League title.

It is the most important game of the season and it resulted because both teams finished on an equal number of points - 58 - at the end of the 26-match campaign.

And at stake is not only the title for season 2018/2019, but also a place in next season's UEFA Champions League. The losers today, in fact, will go into the draw for the Europa League qualifying round.

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If Valletta win, it will be their 25th title win, while for Hibernians it will be their 13th.

It is a match which will certainly attract a large crowd to the National Stadium. As such, one urges all those attending to be prudent and obey the instructions of the police so as to ensure a smooth afternoon with regards to traffic in the surroundings of the Ta' Qali Stadium.

Both sides have prepared assiduously throughout the past few days as both have just one aim. That is, winning the title.

Addressing a news conference yesterday morning, both coaches, Gilbert Agius of Valletta and Stefano Sanderra of Hibernians, outlined the fact that this will be the most important clash of the season.

Agius said he has been in charge of the team for the last three matches only, but is aware that his team has the potential to retain the title that was won last season.

He added: "It is true we were disappointed with the draw against Hamrun which materialised just a few seconds before the end. We had almost won the league that day, but it was not to be. However, I am sure that my boys will be doing their best even if we have Saleh and Zerafa ruled out through suspension and some other player/players facing a late fitness test."

Asked repeatedly whether the absence of Saleh and Zerafa will affect the team's performance, Agius said they had prepared for this top match without them. "Anyway we have to face Hibernians with 11 players and I am sure the ones who will be playing will give their 100 per cent."

Agius said it will not be an easy task. He added: "Hibernians are a strong team, no doubt about it. And they are passing through a period of very good form having won both their last two matches in style, scoring seven goals and conceding only one.

"But we are well prepared to face them and we hope to be able to beat them," he said.

On his part, Sanderra also paid tribute to Valletta. "They are a very strong side with a strong defence, a compact midfield and an attack which is second to none.

"But we are also a good team. We have played a very good championship. In truth, I did not expect my team to be here at this moment. This had to be a transition season, but we have managed to reach the top, even with the absence of such an influential player as the injured Jurgen Degabriele.

"Now we face this match with a lot of confidence after having won our last two matches in convincing manner. Despite the difficulty in facing such opposition as Valletta, I feel we are ready," he said.

Sanderra is also convinced that his players will be giving their all to see the title landing at the club. "We will be fighting till the very end," he said.

Also addressing the press were Valletta's defender Jonathan Caruana and Hibs' midfielder Bjorn Kristensen.

Both commented that it is an important match which both sides want to win. They also agreed that there is a certain amount of expectancy from both sides, but that they will have to wait to see what happens on the field of play.

 

FA Trophy semifinal draws

The draws for the FA Trophy semifinals was made yesterday and resulted as follows:

(1) Tarxien/Balzan v. Birkirkara/Mosta

(2) Pieta/Gzira v Valletta/Hibernians

The first semifinal (1) will be played on Saturday 22 May and the second (2) on 12 May. Both start at 5pm and will be played at the National Stadium.

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