- Nomads out to avenge 1st round league defeat
- BB want to hit back for Carlsberg Cup loss
Domestic football powerhouses Big Bullets and Be Forward Wanderers will be out to settle scores this afternoon when they clash in the second-round of the TNM Super League at the ceremonial home of local football—Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre—in the latest episode of the Blantyre derby.
Interestingly, both teams have declared that they will be on revenge missions with the Nomads out to avenge the 1-2 first-round league defeat in June while the People’s Team say it will be payback time for a similar margin loss in the Carlsberg Cup final five weeks ago. It is the only loss that they have suffered in a competitive game so far this season.
It is the big one today, as the two giants renew their rivarly of their never-ending battle for supremacy—the domestic version of the world’s most famous derby—the El Classico—which features Real Madrid and Barcelona.
The Blantyre derby is a far cry from El Classico and even the Soweto derby, which features Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates in South Africa, is bigger, but every time it comes up, it creates so much hype and expectation.
Admittedly, the dish that is served today cannot be compared to the super meal that the fans used to get in the heyday of the derby in the 1970s, 80s and 90s when it represented a perfect advertisement for local football. But, nevertheless, the rivarly is very strong and a record K27 million ($47 535.21) gross revenue that was realised in the first-round, is sheer testimony that it has not lost its soul.
Such is the luxury in Bullets camp that even with 12 games to go, they already have the destiny of the championship in their hands with a nine-point cushion at the summit of the flagship league table and 12 points clear of the Nomads.
With 38 points from 16 matches, Bullets are yet to taste league defeat this season and have only dropped 10 points whereas the Lali Lubani Road outfit is seventh with 26 games from the similar number of games. They have lost four and are yet to register a point in the second-round having lost to Civo United and Kamuzu Barracks by 1-0 margins.
In recent times, the Nomads have turned into chocolate fireguards against Bullets in league games. Last season, Bullets won both games before emerging triumphant once again in the first-round.
Wanderers coach Elia Kananji on Thursday admitted that this afternoon’s fixture is a must-win if they are to revive their flickering hopes of competing for the title.
“It also gives us a chance to avenge the first-round defeat. We have already lost two games in the second-round and we cannot afford to lose another one,” said Kananji.
He, however, admitted that it will not be a stroll in the park for his charges considering their rivals’ remarkable run in the league.
“They too will be out to avenge the Carlsberg Cup loss and I can foresee a very tight encounter. I just want to appeal to our fans to come in large numbers to cheer their team,” he said.
On the other hand, Bullets mentor Mabvuto Lungu said apart from maintaining their good run in the league, they cannot afford to lose twice in a row to their arch-rivals.
“The Blantyre derby creates a lot of pressure and excitement as well because of the pride associated with it, but we are ready. We have prepared for this match just like any other fixture and we’ll exercise a lot of caution knowing that Wanderers will come out strongly to dent our record,” he said.
In the absence of revitalised forward Chiukepo Msowoya, Jaffalie Chande carries the hopes for the People’s Team and he should be aided by Burundian Niyikiza Ayimable.
Dead ball specialist Yamikani Fodya, wingers Dalisto Sailesi and McFarlen Ngwira will be the other men to watch while in the blue side of town, midfielder Kondwani Kumwenda, Mike Kaziputa, Isaac Kaliati and Luka Milanzi are the men who could illuminate the derby.