No TNM Super League match arrives with more build-up, anticipation and pomp than the Blantyre derby between rivals Nyasa Big Bullets and Be Forward Wanderers.
This afternoon’s encounter could not have come at an interesting time than now—just three days after Football Association of Malawi (FAM) disciplinary committee concluded that talk-of the-town utility player Jaffalie Chande can cross the floor from the red side of town to the blue side.
The last time the two rivals clashed at Kamuzu Stadium, the midfielder-cum-striker was in a red shirt number 10. He was the hero of the day as he sucker-punched Wanderers for the Super League champions to revenge their Carlsberg Cup semi-final loss to the Nomads.
So painful was the goal for the Nomads who cried foul as Chande volleyed into an empty goal after referee failed to rescue fouled goalkeeper Richard Chipuwa.
This afternoon Chande will be scoring in the opposite end of the Kamuzu Stadium pitch as he faces his former team.
Now it’s time for Chande to prove he was worth the hype that accompanied his transfer; otherwise, he risks joining players like Tony Chitsulo who wasted so much energy when changing teams to only flop on the pitch.
But then coach Jack Chamangwana could also choose not to throw in the player to avoid putting him under pressure.
The coach, who was cryptic when asked if Chande is starting today, has enough arsenal to challenge the People’s Team. But he stressed the need for his players to be ready for the battle.
“No player needs to be reminded how important Blantyre derby is. They know how significant this match is. It’s natural. I don’t have to remind them that we can’t afford any mistake in this match,” said Chamangwana.
The coach was not impressed with his charges’ attitude after a dismal performance against Dwangwa United in a game the Nomads almost suffered a shock defeat.
His counterpart Franco Ndawa will be out to consolidate his recovery after beating Red Lions 2-1 at Balaka Stadium last weekend.
Besides that, for the past three seasons, the Nomads have failed to beat Bullets at Kamuzu Stadium in a league match. In 2015 Bullets humuliated them in both matches just like in the 2014 season. The best the Nomads achieved were draws in 2013 season.
Ndawa will be under pressure to maintain Bullets unbeaten record which his predecessors managed to preserve.
Not that he cannot do it–the same players that have dominated Wanderers are still in his squad except for Chande.
Ndawa still has marksman Chiukepo Msowoya who faces a late fitness test after a knock sidelined him from the action in the last two games.
If he is still not available Ndawa has Muhammad Sulumba who seems to take pride in tormenting his former team.
After beating the Nomads 2-0 in the Charity Shield and overcoming Red Lions in their second league match last weekend, Bullets enter the pitch as favourites.
But Ndawa refuses to be taken up arguing that the derby is a whole different game.
“The Red Lions game is gone. We are not reading much into that. We are just concentrating on the match against Wanderers. God willing we will triumph,” said Ndawa. n