Balzan FC face their first real test since the appointment of Paul Zammit as first-team coach on Sunday when they take on Premier League leaders Hibernians at the National Stadium (kick-off: 6pm).
It has been almost a month since Paul Zammit has replaced Mark Miller as Balzan coach and since, then the Reds have gone on a run of three wins in row against Gżira United (2-1), Gudja United (1-0) and Sirens (6-1) that catapulted the team to third place in the Premier League standings on 15 points.
However, things will be far tougher on Sunday for Balzan when they take on a Hibernians side who are without a doubt the most consistent side in the Premier League this season and last Sunday’s 1-0 win over champions Ħamrun Spartans has further strengthened the notion that they are the firm favourites to win the title crown come next May.
Zammit has enough experience not to get carried away with his team’s bright form of late and said that this is just the start of a long process to restore Balzan among the top teams in Maltese football.
“It’s important to emphasise that this is just the start of a long-term project,” Zammit said.
“I have only been at Balzan for four weeks and we started a project that is not only focused on tactical work but also to develop a new technical structure and training methods.
“It is never easy for a club to adapt to certain changes but I was lucky to find here technical staff that were really ready to adapt themselves to my ideas, an administration that has backed me a lot and above all, a group of players who did all they could to follow my football philosophy.
“It has been a good start but honestly, we have not achieved anything yet.
“On Sunday, we will be facing the team that has been the most consistent so far this season. Hibernians are a team with a lot of quality but we believe a lot in the work that we are currently doing.
“For me this match it’s not a test to reconfirm our place in the standings but a chance to show that we are taking the right direction in terms of the work we are doing on the training pitch.
“The players believe that this is a great opportunity to show that they can be a very competitive side this season.”
Hibs, on the other hand, buoyed by their 1-0 win over Ħamrun Spartans, will be looking to strengthen their leadership against what coach Stefano Sanderra described as ‘very dangerous opponents’.
“We may have secured a very important win against Ħamrun Spartans but that is just one step in our journey this season and this weekend we have another very difficult test against Balzan,” Sanderra said.
“Balzan come into the match in high spirits as they have won their last three matches so they will be a very hard nut crack. As always we will try to play our game and continue to build on our performances.
“It was very important to beat Ħamrun Spartans but I must admit that there were some aspects from our performance which I was not satisfied about and we need to improve.
“Balzan are a very physical side who can cause us a lot of problems, so it will be very important that we take the pitch with the right attitude as it is going to be a very difficult test.”
Sanderra is set to be without two key players as defender Leandro Almeida must serve a one-match ban while Raphael is sidelined with a muscle injury.