Big Bullets aim to extend their Super League lead while Silver Strikers’ mission is to cut it. This is what will make the two giants clash at Kamuzu Stadium this afternoon a footballing thriller, one which has potential to provide further twists to an eventful season.
Going into the match, Bullets lead the 15-member pack with 44 points from 19 matches, Mafco lie second with 37 points from 21 games while Silver occupy third position with 35 points having played 20 times.
All signs point to Bullets as clear favourites having opened a seven-point gap with a two game advantage over second-placed Mafco. However, the People’s Team manager Rahim Ishmael has confessed that they are panicking over losing the championship if they are complacent.
The panic, according to Ishmael, is originating from their loss in the Carlsberg Cup final which saw their bitter rivals Mighty Be Forward disappear with the trophy into the wilderness.
Added to that, he also cites their collapse in the Standard Bank semi-finals as another shock worth learning bitter lessons from as they focus on finishing strongly in the league.
“We relaxed because we believed that we were favourites in both games,” he confessed. “But we paid a heavy price and we do not want that to happen again.”
Ahead of the Silver clash, Ishmael said their seven-point lead has done little to convince them that a second title in just two seasons is within miles of reach.
“When you look at the table, you see that at least three teams are still in contention. The truth is that that comfortable lead and the games we have in hand are nothing,” he said.
“We are miles away from defending the title.”
The former Bullets midfielder fears that third-placed Silver, who Bullets beat in the first-round of the prevailing campaign, could offer massive resistance this afternoon.
“Silver are a good side and still in title chase,” he said. “We expect them to fight really hard to close the gap with us.”
Bullets have been dealt a blow ahead of the match as defender Sankhani Mkandawire and forward Jaffalie Chande are suspended for accumulating two yellow cards.
“We will miss the services of the two, but we are hoping that those that will take over the places will equally be fantastic,” he said.
In the absence of Sankhani, coach Mabvuto Lungu is expected to toughen up his defence lines with youthful Miracle Gabeya partnering Chikondi Likwemba.
Facing Silver’s speedy and trickery attackers Green Harawa and Peter Wadabwa, Bullets will be hoping that their defence will answer all the questions the Bankers will be asking.
On the other end, Silver Strikers defender Lucky Malata and Wonder Jelemani will surely not just be resting on the couch; they will have to up the ante to contain the threats from the colossal striker Chiukepo Msowoya and company.
Meanwhile, Silver Strikers team manager Francis Songo said his side, which does not have injuries and suspensions, has not given up hope of winning the title.
“We want to beat Bullets so that we reduce the gap. If this happens, then our chances will be high,” he said. n