An axe to grind. Capital city rivals Silver Strikers and Civil Sporting Club have scores to settle this afternoon when they clash in a Fisd Challenge Cup round of 16 at Silver Stadium.
Thousands of fans will troop to the Area 47 arena for the latest episode in the never ending duel for supremacy in the capital city, hoping that the latest showdown will bring back the time when the Lilongwe derby represented everything good about football in the capital.
The Central Bankers say they are still bitter with the recent 1-2 defeat they suffered at the hands of the Civil Servants in a TNM Super League match at the same venue.
On the other hand, Civil Sporting say they are still haunted by their 2-1 aggregate loss to Silver that sent them packing from the Airtel Top 8.
That is not all.
Apart from the pride associated with the Lilongwe derby, the Fisd Challenge Cup offers both teams a realistic opportunity of finishing the season with a silverware.
The Bankers coaching panel is aware that a slip this afternoon could prove fatal as the club’s management set winning the league title and two cups as the target.
Silver chairperson Ralph Tseka sounded a timely reminder: “Yes indeed, these targets were put in the contracts of the technical team and they have not been reviewed. They still stand.”
Assistant coach Peter Mgangira said they are aware about the importance of the match.
“We have nothing to show for in our trophy cabinet and we have a chance to make up for a disappointing season.”
The former Silver and Flames midfield maestro also said revenge is the ultimate mission.
“The recent defeat [to Civil Sporting] came as a shock because we had not lost to them for quite a while.
“Saturday’s [today’s] game, therefore, provides us a timely opportunity not only to avenge that defeat, but also underline our credentials as the capital city giants.”
Mgangira said apart from injured defender Mike Roberts, they have a full-strength squad.
On his part, Civil Sporting gaffer Frank ‘Franco’ Ndawa said there is always pride at stake which comes up with the derby element.
“And although we won the last time we played them, that does not give us an edge because this will be a completely different game.
“This is a cup game and cup games are always intense because you do not get another chance unlike in the league which is a marathon. So, we expect a tough and bruising battle. Having said that, we are ready and we are not moved playing at their [Silver’s] backyard.
“The way they knocked us out from the Airtel Top 8 still pains us and a win will be a sweet revenge for us,” he said.
Ndawa will be without his predator-in-chief and captain Raphael Phiri who is nursing an injury, but he can still look up to Fletcher Bandawe, Blessings Tembo, Ranken Mwale, Lawrence Chaziya, Isaac Msiska and Gomezgani Chirwa.
The Bankers, on the other hand, have assembled one of the best squads this season, but have failed to live up to expectations.
In the likes of Jack Chiona, Ghanaian Mike Tetteh, Mphatso Philiemon, hard-tackling captain Young Chimodzi Jnr, Zikani Kasambara, Isaac ‘Deco’ Nyemera, Duncan Nyoni, Newman Mwamsamale and Victor ‘Vibre’ Limbani, Silver are plastered with class but they have struggled to find the rhythm expected from such a star-studded side.
The two teams played out a one-all draw in the first round of the league. Charges are K1 500 Open Stands and K5 000 VIP.
In other matches, Mulanje-based Bloemfield host Moyale Barracks at Mulanje Stadium, Airborne Rangers take on Ipota Shooting Stars at Mzuzu Stadium while Mafco FC face Chitipa United at Chitowe in Dwangwa.
The Fisd Challenge Cup boasts the highest winner’s purse of K16 million and the defending champions Kamuzu Barracks host Marka Express of Nsanje. Blue Eagles have a tricky fixture against Nyasa Big Bullets Reserves at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre.