The Malta Independent 17 August 2022, Wednesday

Valletta, Floriana coaches rally teams ahead of derby clash

Saturday, 14 April 2018, 07:03 Last update: about 5 years ago
Photos: Joe Borg/MFA
Photos: Joe Borg/MFA

Derby Weekend promises to offer unrelenting excitement and drama as there is so much at stake for the majority of the teams involved.

Valletta, now two points clear at the top, go into their clash with Floriana on Saturday knowing that a win would edge them closer to the BOV Premier League title but, on the other hand, a defeat would seriously compromise their chances.

While Valletta are determined to win to close in on the championship, Floriana need a win to keep their remote European hopes alive. The fact that the town of Floriana is celebrating the feast of their patron saint St Publius this weekend adds an extra edge to Saturday's derby.


Danilo Doncic, the Valletta coach, is upbeat.

"We are in a good position," he said during a media event held at Trophies Lounge ahead of Derby Weekend.

"Our destiny is now in our own hands. We know that we have a difficult task ahead of us but the motivation is high as this is also a derby.

"We need to approach this match like we did against Ħamrun Spartans, 100 per cent, event 200 per cent and the aim is to win."

Doncic has no doubt that the Valletta fans will turn out in full force for the derby.

"Our supporters will be there, they will be our 12th player," the Valletta coach said.

Nicolas Chiesa, who took charge of Floriana following the resignation of Giovanni Tedesco, emphasised the importance of the derby for the Greens.

"We are preparing as well as we can for this match," Chiesa said.

"For us, this game is like the World Cup final. I know this may sound exaggerated but this is how it feels for us because of the importance it has for our season, for our supporters, for the club president and committee, and also for us."

Matteo Piciollo scored the winner in the first-round derby to give Valletta a 1-0 win over Floriana.

Balzan will surely be hoping for a Valletta slip-up ahead of their match against Senglea Athletic in Saturday's second fixture at the National Stadium.

The Reds slipped to second place last weekend following a 3-1 defeat to Tarxien Rainbows but remain firmly in the title race as they trail Valletta by two points with two games remaining.

Balzan coach Marko Micovic will be without Milos Lepovic, suspended.

In the first round, Balzan had beaten Senglea 1-0.



At the Hibs Stadium on Saturday, Gżira United will be looking to complete their European mission as a win over rivals Sliema Wanderers would ensure a place in the Europa League next season.

Sliema are out of contention for third place but they will be going all out to pep up their form and morale ahead of the BOOST Diesel FA Trophy finals later this month.

Darren Abdilla, the Gżira United coach, is confident that his team have what it takes to win the derby.

"We're aware of the importance of the game," Abdilla said.

"We're looking forward and we're prepared for it. It's a difficult match, we respect our opponents as Sliema are a good and organised team, but this is a derby and anything can happen.

"Our motivation is high as we want to gain a place in the Europa League. It will be tough but I'm confident that we can win this match."

Sliema Wanderers coach John Buttigieg insisted that the Blues are not taking things lightly as they want to end their league campaign on a high note.

"This is an important match for us," he said.

"We have two games remaining and we want to conclude our league commitments on a positive note before we start preparing for the FA Trophy.

"As we've seen in the last matches of the season, anything can happen. It's going to be difficult for us but we have an obligation to give our maximum in every game."

Both Gżira and Sliema have no suspension problems.

In the corresponding first-round fixture, Sliema beat Gżira 2-1.



Birkirkara, now four points behind Gżira but with a Trophy semi-final to look forward to, take on relegation hopefuls St Andrews in Saturday's opening match at the Hibs Stadium.

Coach Paul Zammit will demand a reaction from his team after their 3-1 defeat to Hibernians last weekend.

On the other hand, St Andrews will be targeting a second consecutive win as they bid to keep their survival hopes alive.

Croatian midfielder Mislav Andjelkovic is suspended for Birkirkara who claimed a 2-0 win over St Andrews in the first round.

Matchday 25 of the BOV Premier League gets underway on Friday evening when mid-table side Ħamrun Spartans take on Lija Athletic, with the latter already relegated to the BOV Division One.

Only pride is at stake for these two teams. The Spartans trounced Lija 5-1 in the first round.



Friday-13-Apr 19:00 Centenary Stadium Hamrun Spartans vs Lija Athletic

Saturday-14-Apr 16:00 Hibernians Stadium St. Andrews vs Birkirkara
Saturday-14-Apr 18:00 Hibernians Stadium Gzira United vs Sliema Wanderers
Saturday-14-Apr 16:00 National Stadium Floriana vs Valletta
Saturday-14-Apr 18:00 National Stadium Balzan vs Senglea Athletic
Sunday-15-Apr 16:00 National Stadium Mosta vs Naxxar Lions
Sunday-15-Apr 18:00 National Stadium Hibernians vs Tarxien Rainbows

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