All good things must come to an end. Thus, this season’s TNM Super League that set high standards in terms of competition and the overall entertainment package, comes to an end this afternoon.
At stake is K9 million (US$21 479) ultimate prize and the league’s championship.
The chase for the championship has gone down to the wire with three teams firmly in contention, but it is Silver Strikers who are within touching distance. However, football is a capricious sport in which the mood can swing so quickly and the Bankers have every reason to be wary as they will be taking on the Nomads who are their bogey side.
With 50 points going into their final deciding tie in Balaka, the odds appear to be swinging firmly in Silver’s favour, but they are aware that a slip could prove fatal as second-placed Mafco (48 points) and Moyale, third with 47 points, are breathing down their necks.
Mafco face Civo United at Civo Stadium in Lilongwe while Moyale engage bottom-of-the-table Mzuzu United at Mzuzu Stadium.
Unless a miracle happens, the other match between Kamuzu Barracks (KB) and Blue Eagles at Nankhaka ground will be of little significance as KB will have to win with a deluge of goals and hope that all the other top three teams should lose—quite a tall order.
Should Silver win, they will clinch the championship for the third successive time. If they lose and Mafco win, then Mafco will be crowned champions for the first time in their history.
If both Silver and Mafco lose and Moyale win, then Moyale will win the league. Should Silver draw then it will take Mafco to win by a wide margin to clinch the title as they will tie on 51 points.
So, all the waiting is about to come to an end—the date with destiny is finally here. In the intensity of the riveting contest, the domestic flagship league found a rallying cry that spiced its brand and brought the fans back to the stadiums.
The Bankers will probably wake up tomorrow enveloped by a feeling of celebrating yet another grand triumph or searching their soul after a failed campaign that agonisingly came so close.
Amid the huge dosage of public and media spotlight that has descended on the grand finale, the defending champions’ captain Lucky Malata said they are not nervous.
“I agree that Wanderers have been our bogey side of late beating us three if not four times in a row, including two cup finals, but this will be a different game altogether.
“There is a lot at stake, this time we will fight to the last man standing and we are very relaxed. We are set for the battle and confident that we’ll come out triumphant,” said Malata.
Coach Stain ‘Theba’ Chirwa said: “The good thing is that we have our fate in our own hands and we are not counting on other teams. Of course, people are saying going by statistics, we struggle against Wanderers, but that is when we are playing in Lilongwe and not away.”
He said rather than induce panic, the situation has drawn an upsurge tempo in the Bankers camp.
Nomads technical committee head David Kanyenda, who doubles as general secretary, said Silver should not expect a stroll in the park.
“We also have a cause in that we are fighting for a top-four finish in order to qualify for a prize.
“Of course, it is not in our hands and it will depend on the result in the match involving Eagles and KB for us to finish in the top four, but we are very determined,” said Kanyenda.
Revitalised talisman Green Harawa, wonderboy Chawanangwa Kaonga and Lazarus ‘Decco’ Nyemera will lead the Bankers in attack while Young Chomdzi Jnr and Frank Banda will keep the supply lines open in midfield. The Nomads’ hopes rest on burly forward Innocent ‘Rooney’ Dzimbiri, Mike ‘Malouda’ Kaziputa, Bernard Harawa, Cuthbert Sinetre, Abraham Kamwendo and Kondwani ‘Scholes’ Kumwenda.
Mafco coach Sterio Gondwe and midfielder Zasher Nong’oneza said their sights are set on winning their final game other than the title.
“Our focus is on our final game other than the championship because we can only have a chance of winning the title if we win against Civo. So, it should be first things first.
“We have to admit though that the fate for the title is not in our hands and if we win it, then it will be a bonus, but in football anything can happen and we just have to wait for the outcome,” said Gondwe.
Moyale team manager Victor Phiri admitted that it will not be easy for both Silver and Mafco to falter.
“So, realistically, we are looking at maintaining our third position other than winning the league,” he said.