It was a movement so beautiful, a piece of poetry in motion that was sweet to the eye as diminutive forward Frank ‘Gabadinho’ Mhango—looking more of a ballerina— ghosted in to score the priceless goal that ended Nyasa Big Bullets’ seven-year silverware drought in 2012.
There was that fabulous cross from the late Douglas Chirambo, a flick by Heston Munthali and then, like a sneak thief, Gabadinho sneaking in to provide the final flourish.
That was when the People’s Team pipped Moyale Barracks 1-0 to win the K60 million Presidential Cup and this afternoon, four years down the line, they meet again in the finals of the same competition and at the same venue—Civo Stadium in Lilongwe.
And even without Gabadinho, who has moved on and is part of the kasi and shibobo flavour in South Africa, there are still other artists capable of illuminating the rematch—the likes of slippery winger Dalitso Sailesi, Mike Nkwate and midfield workhorse Henry ‘Magetsi’ Kabichi on the Bullets side and Gastin Simkonda, Chrispin Fukizi and Kuda Muyaba for the Lions of Kaning’ina.
Statistics do not lie and while Moyale are hoping to join the pantheon of local greats to have won this cup before, Bullets are relishing an opportunity of joining their age-old rivals—Be Forward Wanderers—as the only teams to have won it twice.
The Nomads were the inaugural winners in 2009 before winning it again two years later.
Moyale’s coach Collins Nkuna believes this will be payback time for Bullets.
“It is amazing that we will be meeting again in the finals of the same competition and at the same venue. This gives us a chance to avenge that defeat.
“We are set for the battle, all our artillery is in place and our preparations have gone on well,” said Nkuna in an interview on Wednesday.
On his part, Simkonda said: “It has been quite sometime since we last won a cup and this our chance and we are ready. But it is going to be a tough battle because Bullets appear to be struggling in the Super League and they are likely to give out their best shot.”
Moyale have been fluent in attack since the return of Simkonda from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where he spent a year on a peace-keeping mission and has not struggled to settle down, meshing potently with Muyaba and Fukizi.
They are currently the second highest scoring team in the league with 22 goals, three behind Kamuzu Barracks.
Bullets outspoken technical director Billy Tewesa played down his team’s inconsistency in league matches, insisting that history will repeat itself on Saturday.
“We have not been consistent in the Super League, but this will be a different ball game. This will be a cup final and we are treating it as such.
“We have had special preparations including sending an advanced party to Lilongwe. We know Moyale arrived there earlier in the week, but we are not moved,” he said.
He also hinted that burly forward Muhammad Sulumba is a doubtful starter owing to an injury, but they still have enough armoury.
Bullets captain and leading scorer Chiukepo Msowoya said they are heading to the capital city with their confidence in tact.
“A lot has been said about our consistency, but we are not bothered by that, in as far as we are concerned, we are ready to paint Lilongwe red on Saturday,” he said.
Bullets’ strongest department is in defence as they have conceded the least number of goals—seven.
The last time the two teams met was during the first round of the TNM Super League which ended in a barren draw at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre.
At stake is K10 million winner’s purse while the losing team will get a K5 million consolation. n