Escom United are teetering on the brink of relegation from the top-flight TNM Super League and they face yet another uphill task this Sunday afternoon against leaders Silver Strikers who, in contrast, are determined to extend the lead at the summit of the log table in their quest to defend the title.
The setting is Silver Stadium in the capital, Lilongwe.
Silver currently share the top slot with Blantyre United on 48 points, but it is the former who are in the driving seat courtesy of their better goal difference and they have a two-game cushion going into this afternoon’s encounter.
On the other hand, Escom are in the murky waters of relegation and it will take something special to turn it all around. It has been a frustrating season for them with countless bouts of despair.
They were taking on Mafco as we went to press yesterday and regardless of the result, they would still be in the bottom three going into this afternoon’s encounter.
Before yesterday’s game, Escom had 19 points from 23 games.
The Bankers team manager Sibusiso ‘Shaka’ Padambo said they will treat all their remaining games as cup final matches knowing that any slip could prove fatal.
“We have Blantyre United and Big Bullets breathing down out necks. So, at this stage we cannot afford any slip up as it could prove fatal,” said Padambo.
He also predicted a tough encounter considering that Escom are desperate to avoid relegation.
“We are bracing for a tough match and we are not reading too much into Escom’s recent woes. If we win tomorrow’s [today] game then we could be a skip and jump away from retaining the title,” said Padambo.
Escom’s woes have been further worsened by financial problems, but their chairperson Fanuel Nkhono continues to believe in cold comfort that they could salvage something from their remaining games.
“If we can win at least four of our remaining games then we have the potential to escape relegation, but honestly the situation does not look good at all.
“If the boys were passionate, we could do it, but then they don’t have the zeal to fight for their cause. Of course, there are some who are giving out something extra, but there are others who are not working hard. The whole scenario is very frustrating,” said Nkhono.
Escom will be without their key forward Chiukepo ‘Jumbo’ Msowoya who is currently on trials at top Mozambican side Maxaquene, but they still have enough armoury in the likes of Manase Chiyesa, Bernard Harawa, Malumbo Gondwe and Lawrence Milanzi.
The Bankers will look up to Ndaona Daisi, Harvey Nkacha, Blessings Tembo, Rodrick Gonani, Dave Moya and Tony Chitsulo. When the two teams met in the first round in Blantyre, it ended in a three-all draw.
Another potentially tough game scheduled for this afternoon is between title contenders Bullets and Moyale at Kamuzu Stadium.