The journey has been tough and, at times, bloody. Along the way, dozens of boys fell by the wayside; they huffed and puffed. Now, cometh the men and the hour when Be Forward Wanderers and Silver Strikers clash in an attention-grabbing Carlsberg Cup final at Kamuzu Stadium.
There is more to this afternoon’s match than the K12 million grand prize; pride and honour are at stake and revenge, too. This battle, like rival world superpowers occasionally do, will be a display of armoury and skills as the two clubs have assembled expensive and skilled players.
The imagination of seeing Bankers’ midfield maestro Thuso Paipi, versatile winger Duncan Nyoni, talisman Matheews Sibale and Victor ‘Vibre’ Limbani teasing opponents—or Wanderers’ phenomenal striker Peter Wadabwa, his mesh Jimmy Zakazaka, silent assassin Jaffalie Chande and menacing midfielder Mike Kaziputa torturing defenders—foretells the beauty of what is in store.
The Nomads are also set to be boosted by the return of their legendary midfielder Joseph Kamwendo.
Varying statistics are favouring both sides. Wanderers have recently proved to be a thorn in Silver’s flesh in final matches having defeated the Bankers in 2012 and 2013 in the phased out Standard Bank Cup finals.
However, Wanderers fans may feign deafness when reminded that they have never beaten Silver Strikers in five attempts at Kamuzu Stadium; four league games and a Standard Cup tie.
Silver will also view victory over Wanderers as a sugar-coated revenge having suffered an embarrassing home 2-1 loss to Nomads during their Super League opener.
Whatever the outcome, history awaits. If Wanderers, the defending champions, win the trophy, it will be the first team to defend it and the first side to scoop it three times while Silver’s win means a maiden Carlsberg Cup on its shelf.
To reach the finals, Silver beat Mafco 3-1 in a match they had much of the ball, somehow defended weakly, but attacked with overwhelming force.
This afternoon, coach Lovemore Fazili has revealed that they will defend with much steel and attack even more.
“Our approach will be different from the Mafco game. Wanderers is an attacking side so we will be alert defensively and offensively,” he said.
His Wanderers counterpart, Elia Kananji insisted that the poor showing at Kamuzu Stadium will not get into their heads.
“It’s a new day and a new game. I am sure we can cast that curse and win this one as a dedication to our supporters,” he said.
His tactics: “We will attack from the first whistle because we want to win in regulation time.”
The champions will receive K12 million while runners-up will get K5 million. Semi-finalists Mafco and Mangochi Police will each receive K750 000. Losing quarter-finalists Nyasa Big Bullets, Red Lions, Premier Bet Wizards and Prison United, will get K300 000 each. n