The tide of change swirling through domestic football is sweeping the Central Region off its feet this weekend.
After witnessing the clash of age-old rivals Mighty Wanderers and Big Bullets FC battling out in the first semifinal clash of the K20 million (about $67 000) Standard Bank Knockout Cup at Silver Stadium on Saturday, Lilongwe fans feast their eyes on yet another titanic contest as Silver Strikers host Civo United in the battle for the remaining final slot at the same venue this (Sunday) afternoon.
Itâ€™s the big one, ladies and gentlemen, an epic contest that is expected drive the fans through a bewildering gut of emotions just a day after watching a richly exhilarating contest. It is time to separate men from boys as the bankers face the civil servants in a potentially explosive clash.
Silver, the inaugural Standard Bank Cup winners in 2007, and Civo, two-time runners up in 2009 and 2010, meet for the first time in a cup final since their 2010 Presidential Cup meeting which the latter won 1-0.
Having finished the TNM Super League log table at the pinnacle, the bankers are enjoying top form and their new coach Franco Ndawa seems to have settled down quickly as he is unbeaten in two games.
If the current performance is anything to go by, then the bankers have an edge, coupled with the fact that they will be playing at home.
Silver scored four goals in the two-legged quarterfinals against Blue Eagles. On the contrary, Civo have managed just a single goal against Moyale that was enough to take them through to the semis. They qualified on an away goal rule having held the Mzuzu-based soldiers one-all in Dwangwa before being held to a goalless draw in a return fixture.
Ndawa is pretty much aware of the huge task to end Silverâ€™s four-year knockout cup drought that has haunted the Area 47 side since they beat Escom United 1-0 in 2007 to win the first Standard Bank Cup.
They might have won three league titles after that, but Ndawaâ€™s immediate task since his appointment three weeks ago is to win a knockout cup according to club chairperson McDonald Mafuta-Mwale.
“It is going to be a very tough match and in cup games home ground does not count much due to pressure and tension that comes with knockout matches.
“But this is very important game to me personally and the team in particular and I look forward to steer the team to the finals. All I can say is that we are prepared, but I will live everything in the hands of God almighty,” said Ndawa.
Civoâ€™s veteran coach Alex Masanjala said they will go flat out with an attacking strategy from the word go.
“We have spent quality time perfecting our passing and supporting as well as shooting. Silver have to be stopped in the midfield where they are very effective,” said Masanjala.
Ndawa has a star-studded squad and is spoiled of choices on who to field this afternoon.
Striker Tony Chitsulo who was training with Mighty Wanderers, with a hope of signing for the Blantyre side, is back with the team and may get some game time.
Rodrick Gonani, Frank Banda Peter Pindani, Green Harawa, Clement Mvula and Harvey Mkacha are the others who carry the bankersâ€™ hopes.
On the other hand, Masanjala is the master of making the most from modest players. He does not have big name players, but the average players he has have made Silver sweat in their past meetings.
Welenani Nyirenda, Charles Ben, Emmanuel Zoya, Lazarus Chirwa and Dave Ngâ€™ambi are the key men for Civo.