With the BOV Premier Division reaching the half-way mark on Wednesday, following two rounds of matches between the six teams in the championship, this weekend focus shifts to the other major competition in the ASA summer calendar – the KO.
Title holders San Ġiljan Salini Resort, who finished the round robin phase of the league one point adrift of leaders Neptunes Gri-maldi, start their bid to retain the trophy for a second successive year with a massive quarter-final against Sliema Betsson, tomorrow.
The Blues know their chances of winning their first league title since 2009 are somewhat remote after slipping six points behind Neptunes in the regular season before the decisive Championship Pool gets underway next Friday.
Although, one can never rule Sliema completely out of the league race, the Blues will be aware that their best chances of avoiding a third summer without a major title lay mostly in the KO competition which they won last in 2013.
The Saints, who beat Neptunes in the final last year to end a two-decade drought in the KO and seal a league and cup double, will be a difficult proposition though as Marko Orlovic’s team beat Sliema once in the league (12-7) with the other match, early this summer, finishing all-square after an 11-11 draw.
The winners of the Sliema-San Ġiljan quarter-final will immediately be installed as strong favourites to make it all the way to the final match on August 27 as their next opponents will be the league’s bottom team – Exiles Jetfreight.
When the ASA held the quarter-finals draw at Tal-Qroqq last week, like Exiles, Neptunes also received a bye to the semi-finals.
In the last-four stage the Reds will meet the winners of the quarter-final between Valletta McDonalds and Sirens Ritter Sport who face each other this evening.
Sirens and Valletta will both play the rest of the championship in the Relegation Pool after finishing in fourth and fifth positions, respectively, before the cut-off.
These two teams are on an even keel this summer as Stephen Rizzo’s City team beat Sirens 13-11 in the Premier Division first round but the St Paul’s Bay outfit drew their revenge in the ‘return’ match with an 8-6 victory over Valletta.
The KO semi-finals for Premier Division clubs are pencilled for August 12 and 13.
The First Division KO semi-finals – Otters vs Marsascala and Ta’ Xbiex vs Marsaxlokk – will be played on the same dates.
BOV KO Quarter-finals
Today: 19.00 Sirens vs Valletta.
Tomorrow: 19.00 San Ġiljan vs Sliema.
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