Preview: Valletta vs Sliema W Published on: 20-09-2014

Champions Valletta find themselves under mounting pressure to get their act together after taking
only four points from their first four league games.
Although it is still early in the season, Valletta are already eight points off the title pace after their
2-1 defeat to leaders Hibernians last weekend and anything but a win from their clash with fellows-in-distress Sliema Wanderers tomorrow (kick-off 18.00) would deal another hammer blow to their fragile confidence.
Valletta coach Gilbert Agius acknowledged that victory is a must. “We need a good result not to
make up for our defeat to Hibernians but to kickstart our recovery after a disappointing start to the
season,” Agius, who succeeded Dutchman Andre Paus, told Times of Malta.
“Hibernians deserved to win on Sunday. I said before the game that Hibs are the most in-form team.”
On paper, the challenge awaiting Valletta tomorrow is different to the one they faced last weekend as,
while Hibernians were flying after three wins on the trot, Sliema are still without a win after four games.
Not that Agius is reading too much into Sliema’s results.
“We are only concerned about our team,” Agius insisted. “Last week, we had a tough game
against a Hibs team who were coming from three consecutive wins.
“Now we are preparing to face Sliema who will be determined to bounce back after an unconvincing
start. “All matches are difficult.” Agius will be without a host of key players tomorrow. Malta defender
Jonathan Caruana is out after having surgery on his injured groin in Germany this week.
Barry return
Steve Borg suffered an injury during Sunday’s match while captain Ryan Fenech and Tunisian winger
Abdelkarim Nafti are doubtful.
Christian Caruana is still out of the equation. On the plus side, Hamza Barry has finally rejoined the team after the club resolved the visa issues that delayed his return from Tunisia.
The Gambian midfielder, whose move to Esperance failed to materialise, is short of fitness but he may
be included in the squad tomorrow.
After the departure of a host of key personnel, especially foreigners, who helped them win a league
and cup double last season, Valletta have had to bring in new players but even so, no-one envisaged such
a poor start from them.
“There is room for improvement from everyone,” Agius replied when asked if the changes had had a negative effect on the team. “There is no difference between the new players and the old ones. If
you look at our line-ups for the first four league games, those selected are all very good players in our
“But the results have not justified this as we only have four points from four games and this represents
a disastrous start for Valletta. “Everyone must assume their responsibilities but we need to move on and see where we can improve.”

Source - Times of Malta