Malkiya face Hidd tonight in a crucial, second-round game of the Nasser Bin Hamad Premier League Relegation Playoffs.
According to the draw for the playoffs, the teams that finished eighth and ninth in the Premier League face off against the third- and fourth-placed Second Division teams in a group stage format, with every team playing the other three once each.
The top three teams qualify for the Premier League next season, while the team that finishes last will be relegated to the Second Division. This is due to changes made starting next season, where the Premier League will feature 12 teams, rather than the usual 10.
In the first round of the playoffs, Malkiya, who finished fourth in the Second Division, put up an admirable effort, but fell short against Budaiya, who had placed eighth in the Premier League, losing 3-2.
Malkiya came from behind twice in the match, both goals courtesy of Sayed Adnan, but ultimately lost due to Mohamed Khalid Shahin’s goal in the 71st minute that gave Budaiya the win.
Malkiya, who won the Bahrain Premier League in the 2016-17 season for their only championship win, will look to bounce back from the loss, knowing that, should they lose again, they will be put in a must-win situation against Sitra on Saturday.
Hidd, who won the league just two seasons ago and placed ninth during 2021-22 in a dismal downturn of their fortunes, come off the heels of a 1-1 draw against Sitra in the first playoff round. In that match, Sitra, who had placed third in the Second Division, took the lead courtesy their Brazilian star Luiz Junior in the fifth minute before Hidd equalised through Talal Al Shorooqi in the 30th minute.
The first round results mean Malkiya are currently bottom of the group with no points, and Hidd joint second with Sitra with the teams having a point each.
As it stands, Budaiya, Hidd and Sitra could be promoted to the top division next season, while Malkiya are potentially staring at the prospect of another season’s stint in the Second Division.
Hidd, who have won the Premier League twice, in 2015-16 and in 2019-20, will be looking to win as it will seal their spot in next season’s top division.
Depending on the result of the other match between Budaiya and Sitra, Hidd could top the group at the end of the day. If Malkiya win, they could move up to second place, potentially leapfrogging Hidd and Sitra ahead of the final round which will be held on Saturday.
The last time the two teams faced each other was in the Bahrain Federation Cup back in October 2021, which resulted in a 1-1 draw. Hidd reached the final of that tournament last month, only to lose to arch-rivals Muharraq on penalties.