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Sliema, Floriana renew rivalry in Old Firm derby

Sliema’s Juri Cisotti (left) moves past Predrag Djordjevic. Photo: Mark Zammit Cordina

The BOV Premier League will continue its busy schedule this weekend with another blockbuster programme that includes some tasty fixtures between the Premier League front-runners.

One clash that will draw the imagination of the old-timers of Maltese football is the clash between Floriana and Sliema Wanderers who go head to head at the National Stadium tomorrow (kick-off: 6.15pm).

The two Old Firm rivals head into this fixture in contrasting moods as while the Malta champions are brimming with confidence after a commanding 3-0 win over Valletta in their last outing, the Wanderers on the other hand will be looking to bounce back from Tuesday’s 2-0 defeat to Ħamrun Spartans.

Vincenzo Potenza, the Floriana coach, said that he was impressed by the performances of the Blues this season and said that his team will need to be at their best if they are to bag their second successive win.

“The Sliema match is another tough test for us, no doubt,” coach Vincenzo Potenza told the Times of Malta.

“My team is coming from a very good performance against Valletta. Actually, even our two displays against Balzan and Mosta were also excellent, as in those matches we had a total of 31 shots at goal, but the final result was not what we deserved as we drew against Balzan, and then lost to Mosta.

“Against Valletta, we stepped up our game as we were also very efficient in front of goal. Now we hope to keep that momentum against a very dangerous Sliema side.

“Actually, Sliema are one of the teams that I am enjoying watching play this season as I believe that Andrea Pisanu is doing an excellent job. They play some eye-catching football and are a very balanced team so we need to be ready for this crucial test.”

Potenza said that increased number of fixtures is not being helped by the fact of having matches rescheduled due to COVID-19, which further increasing the already congested schedules of all teams.

“Surely, this season is one of the toughest for all the top-flight clubs due to the problems being caused by COVID-19,” the Italian said.

“Having matches called off could work both ways for you. For us, after the win against Valletta we were handed almost a week off as our match against Tarxien was postponed.

“But now we find ourselves in a position that after the match against Sliema we will have to play three matches in the space of a week against Hibernians, Tarxien and Gżira. And that is quite challenging both physically and mentally.”

For the Wanderers, a match against Floriana is always a special occasion for the club given the huge rivalry that exists between the two teams.

Alex Muscat, the Sliema team manager, has a good knowledge of the importance of this fixture for his club having experienced at first-hand the Old Firm derby throughout his playing career.

“Matches against Floriana are very special matches for our club,” the Sliema team manager told the Times of Malta.

“Unfortunately, we are heading into this match on the back of a frustrating defeat to Ħamrun Spartans. The start of the season has been very good for us to a point that the match against Ħamrun Spartans turned out to be decisive for top spot.

“When you lose a match, you always want to get back onto pitch to try and get back to winning ways and a match against Floriana is a perfect opportunity for us to bounce back.”

Muscat said that Sliema’s failure to take the chances they created turned out to be fatal against Ħamrun Sparatns and said that the team cannot a repeat against Floriana.

“Many pundits said that our performance against Ħamrun Spartans was not as good as in previous matches but in reality we still held control of the match but we failed to turn our chances into goals,” the former Malta defender said.

“Our lack of cutting edge in front of goal has cost us dearly in other matches and that is something we need to continue to work on. No doubt, we cannot
afford such lapses or we risk to suffer a similar fate against Floriana.”

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