Preview Day 33 Valletta vs Hibs Published on: 30-04-2016

Valletta vs Hibs

The title party began in earnest last Sunday after Hibernians’ 2-1 loss to Birkirkara gave Valletta an
impregnable four-point advantage over the outgoing champions before their final-day clash today at the National Stadium (4pm).
Not that Hibs were prepared to let go of the title without a fight as they sought to overturn their defeat to
Birkirkara but news that their protest was rejected by the Malta FA Protests Board after a lengthy hearing
yesterday afternoon cleared the way for Valletta to celebrate their 23rd top-flight championship.

Although the importance of today’s game is only academic, Paul Zammit, the Valletta coach, brushed off suggestions that the festive mood might alienate his players.
“There is a strong sense of satisfaction within the squad but there is no euphoria,” Zammit told Times
of Malta.
“It was business as usual for us this week and the club have also respected our wishes. There have
been some activities over the past few days but we want to stay focused until the very end of the season.
“Although we can say that we are the champions and the last game will be a festive occasion, our
approach will not change.
“In football, the result can go either way but the commitment and level of concentration have to be spot-on.
“I have to stress that the players and I are on the same wavelength. “There is a mutual resolve to try
and close this championship on a high note. It has been a very difficult campaign and we all know the sacrifices we have made to achieve this success.
“There will be big celebrations and many Valletta supporters at the stadium. These are occasions you
will cherish forever.
“Our duty is to play to the maximum of our abilities, also out of respect to the club, the fans and
Maltese football.”
The ruling by the MFA Protests’ Board will have further deepened Hibs’ gloom as the deposed champions had hoped to find a route back into the title race by challenging the validity of their result against Birkirkara on the grounds that the latter have some foreign players who don’t have a work permit.
Despite their lingering disappointment, Hibs are widely expected to go all out to outshine the new champions today and put a damper on their title celebrations.
“I don’t think about these things, I only talk about reality,” Zammit replied when asked if he was wary
of the wounded Hibs.
“Hibernians may have lost the championship last weekend but they are still a very strong team. I’m
convinced that, with the players they possess, it will be a tough game but we’re relishing it.
“The games we have witnessed in the last few weeks are good for Maltese football as they were really
intense, like cup ties.
“This is a clash between the leading two teams in the Premier League and I hope it will offer a good advert for the Maltese game.”
Zammit is hopeful of having a full squad today with Argentine defender Juan Cruz Gill back in the
frame after serving a one-match ban.
Hibs coach Branko Nisevic will be without Brazilian striker Jorge Santos Silva and Equatorial Guinea
defender Rui Da Gracia Gomes, both injured.
While acknowledging that Hibs have had a difficult week after the Birkirkara defeat left their title hopes in tatters, Nisevic has urged his players to summon the right motivation for their clash with Valletta.
“We came out disappointed from the last game but we still tried to find the motivation and stimulus ahead of our game against Valletta,” Nisevic, whose future as Hibs coach is uncertain, said.
“It’s important that we finish the season with a good performance and a positive result. “This game will be another challenge as they are the new Premier League winners and we are the outgoing champions.
“We will do our best to win the game.”
Meanwhile the Malta FA announced last night that the tickets for the entire enclosure section, which had been allocated to the Valletta fans, have all been sold.
Previous results: Valletta vs Hibernians 0-1, 3-2.

Source Times of Malta