Mosta seek to get their first points on the board
Steve D’Amato will be keen to ease the pressure off his shoulders as the Mosta coach looks to steer his expensively-assembled team to their first points of the season when playing Sliema Wanderers at the Hibs Stadium tonight.
After a summer of heavy spending, which saw a host of players, including the likes of Daniel Bogdanovic, Luke Dimech and Justin Haber, joining the Mosta ranks, expectations are high at the club.
However, back-to-back defeats to Hibs (3-2) and Valletta (3-1) in their opening two outings, inevitably applied the pressure on D’Amato.
“We all anticipated from the start of the season that Mosta would need time to gel after the signing of so many players in the close season,” D’Amato told The Times yesterday.
“One also has to keep in mind that we played against the two strongest teams in the championship and in my opinion team team held their own well despite the negative outcomes.
“Now we have another tough one coming up against Sliema but I’m now urging the boys to show confidence and win this match. There’s huge potential in our squad this season and with every match that goes we should get stronger and stronger.”
D’Amato is concerned with the fitness of Bogdanovic who picked a knock against Valletta while defender Steve Bezzina is down with flu.
Sliema should name their strongest formation as coach Alfonso Greco can bank on all his players available.
The Wanderers are on a high after coming from two goals down to beat Tarxien 3-2 in their previous outing.
In today’s opening match, Birkirkara start favourites to make it three wins out of three when they take on newcomers Rabat Ajax.
The Stripes had a strong start to the new season as they saw off the challenges of Melita (4-0) and Balzan FC (2-1) so they will fancy their chances of maintaining their perfect run against the Magpies who only have one point to show.
Coach Paul Zammit is sweating on the fitness of strikers Joselito and Shola Haruna but defender Nikola Vukanac returns after completing a three-match ban.
Silvio Vella, the Rabat coach, is set to have the same group of players that featured in the thrilling 3-3 draw against Melita as midfielder Heiner Backhaus is still down with calf trouble while defender Clive Brincat is doubtful after hurting his groin last week.
Scerri injury blow
Ħamrun Spartans will not be in action until Sunday, but yesterday they were stunned by the news that striker Terrence Scerri has been ruled out for six months after a knee injury sustained during last week’s 1-1 draw against Floriana.
Scerri, who joined the Spartans on loan from Valletta this summer, had an MRI scan yesterday that showed the extent of the damage to the knee ligaments.
It is not known whether the Spartans intend to sign a replacement for Scerri before the transfer window closes this evening.
Today (Hibs Stadium)
18.30 Birkirkara vs Rabat
20.30 Sliema vs Mosta
Tomorrow (National Stadium)
18.30 Hibs vs Melita
20.30 Valletta vs Qormi
Sunday (National Stadium)
18.30 Ħamrun vs Tarxien
20.30 Balzan vs Floriana