Ħamrun Spartans will be looking to take another significant step towards reclaiming the Premier League title when the runaway leaders take on champions Hibernians at the National Stadium on Sunday (kick-off: 3pm).
The Spartans have so far been the dominant force in the Premier League this season as the Reds are currently enjoying a commanding nine-point lead over nearest rivals Gżira United and ten clear of Hibernians.
While we are still in the first stages of the second round, there is a growing consensus that victory tomorrow against Hibernians would see the Spartans take another significant step towards reaching their main goal this season – to be crowned as Malta champions.
However, their task will be anything but simple tomorrow as they will be up against a Hibernians side who are desperate to put themselves back in the reckoning.
The Paolites ended their league commitments in 2022 on a disappointing note when they were humbled by Valletta 4-0 which saw them lose second spot in the standings to Gżira United.
“We’re expecting a very tough match against a very strong side,” Ħamrun Spartans coach Branko Nisevic told the Times of Malta.
“It’s true in the last match they had a small hiccup against Valletta but apart from that they have performed very well this season and have also won the Super Cup against Floriana and that shows that they have a lot of quality.
“They are the reigning champions and we will give them the respect they deserve. But still our goal will be that to win all points as always. They are one of the main contenders for the championship and it’s important to continue from what we left off at the end of 2022.”
Nisevic is hopeful of having striker Luke Montebello back in the fray after he missed the last few matches due to injury.
The Spartans have been almost perfect in the league so far this season, with only five points dropped from their first 14 matches.
Nisevic said that it was vital for the Spartans to keep up this high level of consistency if they are to reach their goals this season.
“So far, we have been very consistent in our performances,” Nisevic said.
“Apart from the match against Żebbuġ, we managed to pick up points from 13 of the 14 matches played. The team is showing tremendous solidity and one of our major strengths is without doubt our defence as we have only conceded seven goals this season.
“But as I said it’s important that we keep going, particularly now that we are entering a very important stage of the season, and I want the players to continue to show commitment and resilience as I am sure we have some tough challenges ahead of us.”
On his part, Andrea Pisanu, the Hibernians coach, is aware of the difficult task awaiting his team but said that he is heartened by the spirit shown by his players who are determined to put themselves back in the reckoning for this season’s title race.
“It’s clear that it’s going to be a difficult match against arguably the strongest team in the division,” Pisanu told the Times of Malta.
“We have prepared very well for this match. The players have returned to training with great enthusiasm and have worked really hard during the past ten days since we restarted our training programme on December 27.
“I believe that the team with the best tactical strategy on the day will prevail. Ħamrun will try and increase their lead at the top with a win while our goal is that to try and close the gap with them to keep alive our title hopes.
“Our last match against Valletta was very disappointing but before that we were coming from a very positive run and we need to build on all the positives we have shown so far this season.
“We have started this journey last July, and since then the team has grown a lot and we must continue on this path. The championship is still very long and we must approach it one game at a time and try to win every match have.”
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