There will be a lot at stake when traditional arch-rivals Big Bullets and Mighty Wanderers renew their rivalry at the countryâ€™s ceremonial home of football, Kamuzu Stadium, this afternoon.
It is a Carlsberg Charity Shield showdown.
Apart from the K500 000 (about $2 000) Carlsberg Malawi Limited is dangling for the winner, the match might determine who will win the contest for the giant brewerâ€™s sponsorship at the end of the season.
Carlsberg announced recently that the two giants will have to compete for the ultimate sponsorship based on number of parameters.
“We will use fair play, discipline and performance to select the team that we will sponsor in the future,” said the companyâ€™s group marketing manager Gwynyth Mchiela when disclosing the exciting news about Carlsberg coming back into football last month.
She added: “So, basically, from Carlsberg, we say the ball is in your court.” It really is and the contest starts today (Saturday).
It certainly will be a throwback to the golden era when Carlsberg made Malawi football greener.
The giant local brewer turned back the hands of time by announcing that it would bankroll Bullets and Wanderers for a season.
That was not all. Carlsberg Malawi also announced that it would reintroduce the national cup which will now be called the Carlsberg Malawi Cup. It, indeed, calls for a Carlsberg!
The new chapter began last evening, when Carlsbergâ€™s board chairperson Professor Matthews Chikaonda unveiled the sponsorship package at Protea Ryalls in Blantyre.
The fun reaches the climax as the battle of Blantyre explodes at Kamuzu Stadium this afternoon.
Coincidentally, Carlsbergâ€™s romance with local football came to an abrupt end in 2003, when the final match between the two giants, ended in controversy following Muzipasi Mwangodeâ€™s strike after Joseph â€˜Shakira Kamwendo swung in a beautiful cross from the left-wing.
Kamwendo was the matchmaker on that day.
Nine years might have passed since Kamwendoâ€™s sheer quality shone like a beacon on that evening of extraordinary drama, when his magical skills were displayed for all those assembled to savour.
Just as it is now, Kamwendoâ€™s name rolled off the tongues of the fans so sweetly as he outshined BBâ€™s Fischer â€˜Anongâ€™aâ€™ Kondowe.
Kamwendo and Fischer acknowledged that it will be a journey down the memory lane.
Said Kamwendo: “There is a lot at stake and we are determined to win because whoever wins this match will have an added advantage of winning the sponsorship.”
On his part, Fischer said it will be payback time for their recent 2-1 loss in the Super League.
“Anatigwera tsiku limene lija, this time akawonanso (their win was a fluke, this time we will prove them wrong),” declared Fischer.
Coaches of both teams predicted a tough encounter.
The centre of focus in todayâ€™s encounter will be Nomadsâ€™ Kamwendo and Bulletsâ€™ player-of-the-moment Gabadini Mhango who are enjoying a rich vein of form.
The other potential match-winners could be Diverson Chilemba, Gerald Phiri Jnr, Nafe Msasa, Alfred Manyozo Jnr, Bongani Kaipa and Cuthbert Sinetre for Nomads whereas Bullets have veteran forward Heston Munthali, James Chilapondwa, revitalised Diverson Mlozi, Samson Chonde, Chimango Kaira and George Nyirenda.
Carlsberg said there will be a lot of other entertaining activities such as promotions and music. Entry fee for open stands will be K200 per head, MBC stand K500 ($2), covered stands K1 000 ($4) and K1 500 ($6) VIP.
Veterans of both teams will meet in a curtain-raising match.