The 2020 BOV Premier Division starts its final chapter this evening when San Ġiljan TUM Invest and Neptunes WPSC face off in the first match of the play-off final series at the National Pool (start: 18.45).
This year’s championship showdown comes after a tumultuous campaign which saw this season’s top-flight brought to a halt twice due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In fact, the clash between Neptunes and San Ġiljan was originally scheduled for a fortnight ago but the ASA was forced to postpone the start of the play-off final series after a Neptunes player tested positive for COVID-19 after the team had completed a semi-final victory over Sliema Frank Salt Real Estate.
Since then, Neptunes players were put into self-isolation and have been unable to train until this week, when their quarantine period passed.
San Ġiljan, on the other hand, continued to train and will surely head into the final showdown in a much better physical shape and that would put them as firm favourites to reclaim the crown they last won three years ago.
Malta national team coach Karl Izzo told the Times of Malta that San Ġiljan were undoubtedly the best performer in this year’s championship
and irrespective to what happened in the last few weeks they were always going to bethe firm favourites to lift the title.
“For me San Ġiljan are the favourites to win this year’s title crown,” Izzo said.
“They have been without doubt the best team prior to the final and surely the odds are in their favour.
“One also has to take into consideration the fact that Neptunes have been unable to train for 15 days and therefore it remains to be seen in what condition they will present themselves for the final, given that San Ġiljan continued to train normally.”
Neptunes will be without Nikolai Zammit who is currently serving suspension and Izzo said that his absence will surely be a big miss for the Reds.
“Nicolai Zammit is an important player in the Neptunes set-up,” Izzo said.
“He played a key role for the Reds this season and it remains to be seen how they will fill his void in his team particularly because he gives them something different given that he is a left-handed player.
“So, it’s looking tough for Neptunes but this is a final and anything can happen.
“They are still the reigning champions and have some key players in Steve Camilleri, Jordan Camilleri and Jake Muscat, who had an exceptional season, who will have an added responsibility for their team.”