Preview: Valletta vs Birkirkara Published on: 18-10-2014

After the shock of loosing our last game against the new promoted Pieta Hotspurs, and the international stop, now its time for the big game against Birkirkara.
The Stripes like us are coming from a negative result against Tarxien, so nothing less than three points will satisfy them against us tomorrow.
From the point of view of Valletta, although this season we did not started on the best way we wanted, the atmosphere surrounding the clan gives us a positive approach for this big game. For the first time this season, our coaches will be having the luxury of the whole squad, as all the players are fit to play. We will be all hoping for a good result and a positive performance from this encounter, if we want to keep the pace with the first four.
As like all of us, you our beloved supporters are not happy with the negative results that we had so far. We are Valletta FC, and these kind of performances are not acceptable, but, football sometimes is like that! We always try all our best to go out of the pitch with a handful of points, but unfortunately sometimes not everything comes straight forward. Although we are passing a dull moment, I promise you that we are working hard to get out of this patch. 
Now we need you our supporters more than ever. With you behind us and giving us your loyal support, we can get over this dull moment.
Thanks for all your support.

As the dust settles on Malta’s muchhyped encounter with Italy, the focus switches back to the mundane reality of domestic football as the BOV Premier League resumes with a six-match programme.
For local heavyweights Valletta, the reigning champions, and Birkirkara, this is no ordinary weekend
Undisputed protagonists in last season’s title duel which eventually tilted Valletta’s way after a final-day 2-0 victory over Birkirkara, the two rivals are under pressure to get their act today.
Early days these may be but Valletta and, to a lesser extent, Birkirkara know that a defeat from
their head-on encounter tomorrow (kick-off 5pm) would further undermine their chances of reeling in the erstwhile unstoppable Hibs, especially if the latter extend their perfect start when they meet neighbouring rivals Tarxien Rainbows this evening.
Second-placed Birkirkara lead Valletta by five points but both are coming from a shock defeat as the Stripes went down 3-1 to Tarxien and the champions succumbed to a 2-1 upset to Pietà Hotspurs.
Paul Zammit, the Birkirkara coach, acknowledged that his team have had an up-and-down start to the season but played down suggestions that there is added pressure on them to win against Valletta.
“I don’t agree that we are under increasing pressure,” Zammit told Times of Malta.
“Our season has been a hot-and cold affair so far. “Some of the performances have been good. We have tried to replace the foreigners who no longer form part of the squad but it’s not easy to offset the loss of Rowen Muscat and Joseph Zerafa.
“The team has changed substantially. We have some new foreigners but I wouldn’t say that our biggest problem is that the team has yet to gel.
“I mean our first important commitment was the Super Cup match and we did well on that occasion (Birkirkara beat Valletta 2-1). “It’s the consistency that has been lacking and I think this is due to the changes we had to make to the squad.
“We have had mixed results... in the game against Mosta, the team produced a disciplined performance and won but, only four days later when we played against Tarxien, the story was completely different.”
While insisting that, at this moment in time, his no.1 priority is to make his team more competitive, Zammit also expects Valletta to raise their game as the season progresses.
“One also has to recognise the fact that there have been some significant changes at Valletta,” Zammit said.
“They have a new coach and I’m sure that Gilbert Agius is working hard to lead the team forward.
“Valletta were also unlucky in certain games but I’m convinced that they will get back on their feet. In my mind, Valletta have the best squad in terms of strength-indepth.” During the international break, Birkirkara re-signed Nigerian forward Shola Shodiya Haruna who is expected to be in the squad for tomorrow’s clash.
Captain Gareth Sciberras is nearing the end of his recovery from a leg injury while Ryan Camenzuli is doubtful with a knee problem. A lack of consistency has also been Valletta’s Achilles heel this season as the champions trail Hibs by 11 points after only seven games.
Midfielder Roderick Briffa, who turned in a bright performance in Malta’s 1-0 defeat to Italy on Monday, conceded that Valletta can’t afford to drop more points. “We are going through a negative spell,” Briffa said. “After our defeat to Pietá, we need to roll up our sleeves and work harder to achieve results.”
Former City midfielder Ivan Zammit has been appointed technical director as Valletta moved to strengthen their technical set-up in light of the team’s stuttering start to their title defence.
While expressing hope that Zammit’s arrival will prove beneficial, Briffa said the players are motivated to turn the situation around, starting with tomorrow’s important match against Birkirkara.
“Valletta-Birkirkara is one of the most popular fixtures in the local calendar,” Briffa said.
“It’s an important game for the players and the fans. “There is great motivation among the players to bounce back. “We all know that, if we lose, we will fall further adrift of Hibs. “We need to go into the match determined to give more than 100 per cent.”
Valletta coach Agius is expected to have a full squad at his disposal as the likes of Jonathan Caruana, Steve Borg and Portuguese Hugo Faria have returned to training. Invited to give his views on Birkirkara, Briffa expects his former club to retain their status as one of the main contenders for the championship this season but he preferred to focus on his team.
“They have a lot of valid players but so do we,” Briffa said. “It could be that, after winning the league and FA Trophy, we started the season with an air of over-confidence but surely the results of late have brought us back to earth.”

Source - Times of Malta