The faint-hearted will not be welcome at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre this afternoon as Big Bullets take on Silver Strikers in a do-or-die Carlsberg Cup semi-final clash.
If recent statistics are anything to go by, then Bullets—who are the cup holders— are the favourites’, having won both matches against the Bankers in the TNM Super League first-round 2-1 and in last weekend’s Intercity Bonanza 1-0.
Bullets are also at the summit of the 15-team league log-table with 32 points, 12 points ahead of the Bankers who are on position eight.
However, in cup games it does not always go according to script and what matters is how the technical panels will come up with their game plans and players’ determination.
Although Lilongwe-based Bankers earlier seemed discontented with having Kamuzu Stadium as a ‘home’ ground when, in reality, the pitch in Blantyre is Bullets’ base, Silver perform well when playing at the venue and aided by ganyu fans, they should still feel at home.
Moreover, Silver managed to win most of their matches away from their ground Silver Stadium in the Super League’s first-round. They won all but one of their matches away from the ground, but suffered four defeats at their backyard.
“We are well assured of backing from the ganyu fans and we will do anything possible to make them happy,” said Silver vice-captain and marksman Green Harawa. “We started preparing for this game as early as Monday. It will be a fantastic game.”
According to Harawa, whose side is looking for the first-ever qualification into the Carlsberg Cup final, their 0-1 loss to Bullets in the Intercity Bonanza was not as a result of his team’s poor form, but because their technical panel was sampling how new players could fit in.
He assured that they will have their full squad of experienced players such as former Bullets stars midfielder Victor Limbani and striker Tizgowere Kumwenda.
Nevertheless, Bullets captain Fischer Kondowe said they will not let complacency take its toll on their title-defence bid.
“We take each and every game as a special event. If you look at our recent performance, you will note that we have a fighting spirit no matter which team we are playing against,” Kondowe said.
The return of bully striker Chiukepo Msowoya from trials in Lebanon and Tanzania on Wednesday should also be a big boost for the Bullets camp after missing his services in the quarter-final.
The winners of today’s semi-final will face the victors of tomorrow’s other last-four encounter between Wanderers and Moyale Barracks at Civo Stadium.
Among this year’s semi-finalists, it is only the Bankers who have not won the title. Wanderers were the inaugural champions in 2000 when they beat Bullets 2-1 in the finals. Bullets took the glory twice; in 2002 and last year. Moyale were the champions in 2001.
Bullets are yet to lose a competitive match so far this season.