Preview: Day 11 Valletta vs Hamrun S Published on: 18-11-2017

Valletta’s status as the BOV Premier League leaders faces a tricky test tomorrow when they take on Ħamrun Spartans at the National Stadium (kick-off: 4pm).
For local football enthusiasts clashes between Valletta and Ħamrun Spartans evoke memories of the huge rivalry that existed between the two clubs in the 1980s and early 1990s when they dominated the domestic scene.
More than two decades have passed since, and Valletta and Ħamrun have both experienced mixed
fortunes in the interim.
While Valletta have managed to preserve their place among the leading sides in the BOV Premier League, the Spartans experienced some difficult times which also saw them lose their top-flight status on more than one occasion.
However, this season the Reds are showing a lot of promise and if their solid start to the campaign is anything to go by they will surely turn out to be a tough opponent for all the top teams in the division.
Zoran Popovic, the Valletta coach, has branded the Spartans as very dangerous opponents and said
that his players must approach the match with great caution.
“Matches against Ħamrun Spartans are always very important matches for our club given the huge rivalry that exists between the two clubs,” the Serbian told Times of Malta. “We need to be very careful as Ħamrun can be very dangerous. 

They have some very good quality players who can cause us a lot of trouble and surely we need to be at our best.
“The objective for us is very clear, we want to win this match to retain our place at the top of the Premier League standings and at the same give ourselves the best preparation ahead of next week’s derby against Floriana.”
Popovic is sure to make at least one change to his starting formation as wing back Joseph Zerafa is
forced to sit out as he must serve a one-match ban following his red card against Hibernians in their
last outing.
Otherwise the Serbian coach has no fresh injury worries but must check on the fitness of Ibrahim Saleh as the Oman midfielder has just returned from international duty with his country after scoring in the 5-2 win
against Bhutan.
Rowen Muscat, who played his first match after seven months out in Malta’s 3-0 defeat to Estonia, will
also be assessed by the Citizens’ medical staff.
The Spartans are looking at the match against Valletta as a good opportunity to prove that they can
mix it with the big guns of the Premier League.
Coach Jacques Scerri said that he is aware of how much this match means to the club and the fans and
said that they are determined to give the Citizens a good run for their money.
“We are aware of the importance of this match and how much it means for our fans and the club and we are keen and determined to get a positive result,” Scerri said.
“Our preparations for this match have gone very well and we are ready to face a very strong team that
is currently at the top of the standings by chance. They have a squad of players full of internationals and
their defence is the strongest in the championship at the moment.
“It will not be an easy match but we are ready to give it a go against them and hopefully my players will
rise to the occasion.”
Scerri is boosted by the full recovery of Brazilian midfielder Artur Faria who has been out of the equation
for the past month or so.
During the international break, the Spartans worked hard to bolster their forward line and brought in
two forwards. Dutch striker Wim Bokila was offered a contract after he impressed during a short trial.
Ħamrun have also handed a contract to forward Davide Succi.
The former Palermo and Cesena played for the Reds in a friendly with Gżira United last week and
scored a brace, convincing the Spartans to sign him. However, it remains to be seen whether Bokila
and Succi will be available Sunday as until the time of writing the Reds were still awaiting paperwork to
complete their registration.

Source - Times of Malta