Nyasa Big Bullets, who are within touching distance of the TNM Super League title, are hoping to get it over and done with when they face Red Lions this afternoon at Balaka Stadium.
The People’s Team need just a point from today’s encounter, but they face wounded Lions from Zomba, who must win their last encounter to avoid relegation from the top-flight league.
Bullets sit pretty at the summit of the 16-team league with 64 points from 27 games—five points ahead of second-placed Be Forward Wanderers who have played a game more.
On the other hand, the Malawi Defence Force (MDF) side has 33 points and anything short of a win will see them kiss goodbye to the flagship football league.
Such is the luxury for the People’s Team that even if they lose today, their championship title chase can only be delayed as they will still have two more games—against Silver Strikers and Civil Sporting Club—to complete the task.
But their Zimbabwean coach Callisto Pasuwa, whose target for a continued romance with Bullets hinges on winning the league, says he wants to complete the task today.
“Football is such an unpredictable game in which the mood can swing anytime. So, we need wrap it up now other than later,” he said.
The former Zimbabwe’s Warriors and Dynamos FC mentor has challenged his charges to be mentally strong.
“This is the chance for them [players] to prove to management that they can do it. They need to put up an extra fight,” he said.
The league’s leading scorer Chiukepo Msowoya, Nelson Kangunje, Bright ‘Bweke’ Munthali and Righteous Banda are the men that can complete the task for Bullets to place the champagne on ice and celebrate their 13th league title.
Bullets are still licking their wounds after being knocked out of the Fisd Challenge Cup last Sunday by Silver Strikers and will go into the game with a mind to salvage their wounded pride.
On the other hand, while the Lions are staring relegation in the face, it is not all doom and gloom and their coach Nelson Chirwa says his troops will fight every inch of the way.
“My players know the importance of this match and they are prepared to give out 100 percent.
“We have all our artillery in place and we will fire from all angles on Saturday,” he said.
Their midfield workhorse Chikoti Chirwa, Stevie Ziba, Mphatso Ngwira and Moses Nankumba carry the hopes for the soldiers whose last two games against Blue Eagles and Kamuzu Barracks, ended in goalless draws.
When the two teams met in the first round, Bullets emerged 3-0 victors.
Apart from the Lions, six other teams are also not safe from relegation. These are Blue Eagles, Azam Tigers, Moyale Barracks, TN Stars, Dwangwa United and Karonga United.
Five of them—Eagles, Tigers, Moyale, TN Stars and Karonga are tied on 35 points and out of these, Tigers already wound up their fixtures.
Karonga’s Ingwina, who are just a place above the relegation zone with 34 points, host Eagles at Karonga Stadium this afternoon.
At Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre, the Nomads and Moyale face off just a week after Wanderers booted out the Lions of Kaning’ina from the Fisd Challenge Cup.
Moyale coach Charles Kamanga has said apart from seeking revenge, they are also aiming at finishing in the top eight to be eligible for the Airtel Top 8 contest for next season.
“A top eight finish will be a solace and, therefore, it is a must win fixture for us,” he said.
On the other hand, Nomads’ ever upbeat team manager Stevie Madeira said they are looking forward to sealing a second-place finish.
“Unless a miracle happens, realistically we are out of contention for the title, but we need at least a point to be assured of the second slot. Nevertheless, we will go for a win,” he said.
Silver, who are third with 56 points—three short of the defending champions— have one game against Bullets to wind up the league. n