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Holders Balzan to face Pietá as big guns handed favourable draw

Holders Balzan were handed a comfortable-looking start to their title defence in the FA Trophy when they were drawn to face Pietá Hotspurs as all the top teams from the Premier League were handed a favourable draw on Saturday.

Balzan, who won their first-ever FA Trophy in season 2018-19 after defeating Valletta in the final, are still the holders as the knock out competition was not completed in the last two years due to the fact that the past two seasons were cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Paul Zammit’s team were handed a favourable start to the campaign as they were paired with Challenge League side Pietà Hotspurs. However, the Reds may find a much tougher proposition in the Last 16 should they progress as they could play against Malta champions Ħamrun Spartans.

The Spartans were also handed Challenge League opposition as they will take on Naxxar Lions.

The Last 32 draw has provided a potentially fascinating draw as the Maltese Premier League leaders Hibernians were drawn to face Nadur Youngsters who are currently topping the standings in the GFA Division One.

Floriana were also handed a tricky debut in this year’s competition as they face Gozitan side Għajnsielem.

There was only one all-Premier League tie in yesterday’s draw as Santa Lucia FC were paired with Sirens.

The two top-flight sides have already met once in the league championship this season with Sirens coming out on top when winning the match 3-1.

Gżira United were paired with National Amateur League side Żabbar St Patrick while the other third-tier team in the draw, Marsaskala, were paired with Valletta FC.

Birkirkara will be up against Fgura United while Sliema Wanderers take on Vittoriosa Stars.

The Last 32 ties will be played over the weekend of February 8-10.

LAST 32

1. Żebbuġ Rangers vs St Andrews

2. Sta Lucia vs Sirens

3. Gżira United vs Żabbar SP

4. Gudja United vs Swieqi United

5. Sliema W. vs Vittoriosa Stars

6. Pembroke vs Marsaxlokk

7. Birkirkara vs Fgura United

8. Mosta vs Luqa SA

9. Balzan vs Pieta Hotspurs

10. Ħamrun Spartans vs Naxxar Lions

11. Floriana vs Għajnsielem

12. Melita vs St George’s

13. Marsa vs Tarxien Rainbows

14. Marsaskala vs Valletta

15. Żejtun C. vs Xewkija Tigers

16. Hibernians vs Nadur Y.

LAST 16 DRAW

Żebbuġ Rangers/St Andrews vs Sta Lucia/Sirens

Gżira United/Żabbar SP vs Gudja United/Swieqi United

Sliema W./Vittoriosa Stars vs Pembroke/Marsaxlokk

Birkirkara/Fgura United vs Mosta/Luqa SA

Balzan/Pieta Hotspurs vs Ħamrun Spartans/Naxxar Lions

Floriana/Għajnsielem vs Melita/St George’s

Marsa/Tarxien Rainbows vs Marsaskala/Valletta

Żejtun C./Xewkija Tigers vs Hibernians/Nadur Y.

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