It is almost 11 months today since Mighty Wanderers beat Silver Strikers 2-0 on October 6 at Silver Stadium to lift the Standard Bank Knockout Trophy.
The two teams line up again against each other this afternoon, but with a few things that have changed—the venue and the line-up of players in both camps.
As the two teams meet at Civo Stadium, Wanderers will be without their inspirational players Joseph Kamwendo and Gerald Phiri Jnr who were instrumental in last year’s triumph. The two players have moved on to professional leagues elsewhere.
But still they have Victor Mpinganjira who contributed to Silver’s misery last year when he scored the first goal after connecting Kamwendo’s free kick rebound.
On the other hand, Silver are without midfield maestro Harvey Mkacha who is now with Kamuzu Barracks (KB), but they still have Green Harawa who has been instrumental in the Bankers’ qualification for today’s final.
The desire for retribution spurred the Bankers to knock out the capital city rivals Civo United last week.
Wanderers’ challenge is to match their conviction to repeat last year’s success with the Bankers’ desire to turn the tables.
As the two teams battle for the Standard Bank honours, the result of the match will also determine the lifeline for the two coaches—Stuart Mbolembole (Wanderers) and Stain Chirwa (Silver).
Both teams are yet to see the worth of their coaches, so the result of this match will surely have a serious bearing on Mbolembole and Chirwa.
Ironically, the two teams have proved not to be patient in firing non-performing coaches.
For Silver, despite their success in the TNM Super League luck has been eluding them in cup competitions for a long time, the Standard Bank final is their closest search for cup glory and it is a must that Chirwa carries the day.
“We cannot afford to lose twice. This is an important game and we are prepared well. Of course, there is pressure from the fans who are expecting nothing short of victory. We hope to live up to their expectations but, in football, you have to respect your opponent,” said Chirwa on Thursday
Mbolembole, who was fired and later reinstated by the executive a fortnight ago, cannot afford to lose this match too.
And if Wanderers’ performance in the 2-0 win against Kamuzu Barracks last week is anything to by, then Silver need to be wary.
“The game against Silver will be an entirely different affair from the KB one. It is going to be an entertaining game and we need to be at our best,” said Mbolembole.
In the midfield, there will be battle of supremacy between Mike Kaziputa and Harawa.
Harawa, who is the favourite for the Golden Boot Award will be seeking to add more goals to pip Moyale Barracks’ Gastin Simkonda to the K100 000 prize.
“My priority is to assist the team win on Saturday, the Golden Boot Award, will be an added bonus. It is important that we win the cup,” said Harawa on Wednesday in an interview.
But this afternoon, Harawa will have to shake off the attention of Bongani Kaipa who will be his shadow for 90 minutes if they are to deliver.
Just like Harawa, Kaziputa also has netted four league goals for Nomads and his form has translated into the Standard Bank. He scored one of Nomads’ goals against KB last week.
“The Standard Bank Trophy is the only realistic competition for us to win something this season. We have to be at our best on Saturday. In this game, I pledge to give my all,” said Kaziputa.
Defending midfielder Young Chimodzi Jnr should be the man Chirwa has entrusted with shutting Kaziputa down on the wings.
Minister of Youth and Sports Enoch Chihana, FAM president Walter Nyamilandu and Standard Bank CEO Andrew Mashanda are expected to grace this grand finale.
In a related development, on Friday the finalists accompanied by Standard Bank officials visited the SOS Village in Lilongwe where they donated K500 000 (about $2 150) and footballs.