Stripes have a four-point lead above the Owls with eight games left.
This week’s Assikura Women’s League direct encounter between Birkirkara and Swieqi United has the potential to determine whether this season’s championship will tilt to the Stripes once again or whether it will go to the wire.
The Stripes lead the championship on 40 points, enjoying a four-point lead above their nearest rivals Swieqi.
This will be their first head-to-head in the Top Four phase with both Birkirkara and Swieqi set to face each other twice more.
However, should Birkirkara win, the three points would see them open a seven-point gap and with seven games left, dethroning the Stripes would start to become a daunting task for the Owls.
Swieqi, though, can take courage from the fact that they have not lost in their previous two league games against Birkirkara this season.
In their first round tie, a stoppage time goal by Karima Abdulai handed Saviour Darmanin’s side a narrow win to halt Birkirkara’s long unbeaten run in the championship.
This game was followed up by a goalless stalemate in their second round match.
Birkirkara, however, did beat Swieqi to lift the first silverware of the season after clinching the Super Cup back in December.
The Stripes are at the back of comfortable 4-0 victory over Mġarr United with Veronique Mifsud and Alishia Sultana grabbing a brace each.
Coach Jose Borg deployed Japanese newcomer Nanako Kobayashi as she made her Birkirkara debut after joining the club during the winter transfer window.
On the other hand, Swieqi scored a second-half winner to beat Hibernians last weekend, keeping the heat on the Stripes.
Karima Abdulai, Swieqi’s second best scorer with 13 goals, netted the goal that sank the Paolites.
Her Ghana compatriot, Salamatu Abdulai, is expected to be available for selection after missing Swieqi’s last two games.
The 19-year-old forward, league’s best scorer with 18 goals, was part of the Ghana U-20’s national team that booked their berth to this year’s FIFA U-20’s Women’s World Cup in Colombia.
They defeated Nigeria in a double-legged tie with Abdulai scoring one of the goals in the second leg as well.
In the meantime, Swieqi are expected to bolster their attack with the arrival of Brazilian forward Ana Jessica Araujo Rodrigues who joins from Operario FC.
In another Top Four game, Hibernians and Mġarr United face each other in Friday’s kick-off.
The Paolites, now guided by coach Kenneth Costantino, are third on 32 points with Mġarr trailing them by six.
The Greens, who have also switched coaches with Patrick Curmi now in charge, lost to Swieqi and twice to Birkirkara in their last three outings.
In the previous two matches between these two sides, Hibernians and Mġarr shared a six-goal draw in the first round before the Paolites won the second round tie 3-2.
Meanwhile, the Bottom Four section will pit Valletta against Mtarfa and San Ġwann against Lija Athletic.
Valletta, coached by Denis Guerra, have the best record in the bottom section with 21 points as they are followed by San Ġwann who recorded 13 so far.
Lija Athletic have picked up seven points while Mtarfa remain anchored in last place with no points.
Birkirkara vs Swieqi United – 20.15, Centenary Stadium.
Mġarr United vs Hibernians – 20.30, Victor Tedesco Stadium.
Mtarfa vs Valletta – 14.00, Dingli Ground.
San Ġwann vs Lija Athletic – 16.30, Dingli Ground.
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