Silver Strikers and Mighty Wanderers this afternoon go hammer and tong in the battle for the last FDH Bank Cup final slot at Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe.
What makes this afternoon tie interesting is that both sides have thin chances of winning the TNM Super League; hence, the FDH Bank Cup could be the only chance of finishing with silverware this season.
Inevitably, both sides can feel the final at their fingertips and the morale in their camps is sky high.
But before they can start dreaming of the K25 million grand prize, there is this small matter of eliminating one of them today in the semi-finals to identify who meet Ekwendeni Hammers in the final.
Interestingly, the two sides just met last week in the league when Wanderers snatched three points from the Central Bankers following a 1-0 victory.
But Wanderers coach Bob Mpinganjira said looking much into the past could be foolhardy for the Nomads.
He said: “Just because we won last week it’s not automatic that this one will be a walkover. That game is gone. This is a whole different game. We are taking this semi-final very seriously.”
Silver will be hoping to surprise the Nomads just like they did with Nyasa Big Bullets in the quarter-finals.
After managing to claim a crucial 2-1 league game victory over the Bankers, Bullets thought they would do the same a week late in the FDH Bank Cup quarter-finals, only to face a charging wounded buffalo.
Will the element of surprise work this time? Silver assistant coach McDonald Yobe said this time it will not be easy to surprise the Nomads like they did with Bullets.
“We lost against Wanderers last week, but this is another game. It’s a knock out and we need to work hard. We need to be courageous. The guys really have to work hard to win this one,” he said.
In that league encounter, Silver missed some good chances that could have changed the complexion of the game—mistakes they can’t afford to repeat this afternoon.
“We created four or five chances and Wanderers only created one. This time it’s up to us. If we get a chance, we need to finish the game. I believe the guys are ready, the motivation is there and the confidence is there,” he said.
But coming up against an experienced side like Wanderers, which prides in being cup masters, is never easy.
The Nomads boast of the best arsenal especially in the midfield where Vitumbiko Kumwenda, Yamikani Chester and Rafick Namwera have been outstanding, leaving star striker Vincent Nyangulu, who is also leading scorer in the cup, with an easy task.
Coupled with experience of in-form goalkeeper Richard Chipuwa, the backline of Lucky Malata, Stanley Sanudi, Yunus Sheriff and Francis Mlimbika, Wanderers can be one tough side to concede in open play.
However, Silver’s advantage is their ability to rise even on a bad day, like they did when they came from behind twice to beat Bullets in post-match penalties.
Their young squad now has guidance following the return of veterans Blessings Tembo and Frank Banda who have breathed life into the Bankers.
Strikers Stain Davie and Maxwell Phodo have already been tried and tested and this afternoon the Bankers’ fate lies in their hands.