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Birkirkara, Ħamrun Spartans look to maintain perfect start

Birkirkara’s Osvaldo Iorio (left) races past Bradley Kamdem. Photo: Domenic Aquilina

Birkirkara and Ħamrun Spartans will be bidding to maintain their perfect start in the 2022-23 BOV Premier League when the joint-leaders face tricky outings on Match Day 6 this weekend.

The Stripes and the Spartans have been the outstanding performers in the Maltese top-flight this season after winning their opening five league matches to set the tone in this year’s campaign.

Ħamrun Spartans will renew their rivalry with their old-time foes Valletta in Saturday’s opening fixture at the National Stadium (kick-off: 3pm).

Branko Nisevic’s team have managed to bring the impressive form shown in the UEFA Conference League qualifiers this summer to domestic competitions as so far they have breezed through their opening five encounters in the Premier League to establish themselves as one of the leading contenders for this year’s title crown.

Last weekend, the Reds have given another timely reminder of their level of competitivity when they brushed aside last season’s FA Trophy winners Floriana 2-0, in a match they controlled from start to finish.

Tomorrow, they have another serious test when they take on Valletta in a clash that will revive the huge rivalry that exists between both sets of fans.

The Spartans will certainly fancy their chances of extending their winning run this season, but will surely not underestimate the threat posed by Valletta who are capable of offering a stern challenge despite their poor run of results of late.

In fact, Thane Micallef’s team are desperate to put to a halt a negative three-match streak which saw them pick up just one point after conceding back-to-back defeats to Floriana (0-1) and Birkirkara (3-0).

Against the Stripes, Valletta held their own for much of the match but were undone by their poor finishing and surely they cannot afford to miss the chances they create if they are to take any points from this match.

The Ħamrun Spartans-Valletta clash will be followed by another enticing encounter as Birkirkara face Gudja United in what promises to be a fascinating contest.

Birkirkara have shown a lot of promise so far as Giovanni Tedesco’s team have been ruthless in their performances to emerge victorious from all of their opening five outings.

On Saturday afternoon, however, they are likely to face a tricky test when they face third-placed Gudja United, who so far have been the revelation of the season.

The southerners, under the charge of Andrea Agostinelli, have shown great solidity in their play and have only dropped two points from their opening five matches, a 3-3 draw against Gżira United.

The acquisitions of Andre Prates, Vito Plut and Samuel Gomes have given a new dimension to Agostinelli’s side who are showing great consistency in their performances which bodes well to their ambition to keep the pace with the league pacesetters.

No doubt, tomorrow’s clash against Birkirkara will be a perfect occasion to gauge the team’s credentials and see how far they can go this season.

Meanwhile, competitive action will get under way on Friday evening when champions Hibernians start as firm favourites to bag the three points when they face newly-promoted Żebbuġ Rangers at the Tony Bezzina Stadium.

The Paolites are desperate to rediscover a tad of consistency after managing just two wins from the opening five outings this season.

This evening they are likely to prove too strong for a Żebbuġ Rangers side who have only one win to show from their opening five matches on their return to the top-flight.

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