Eight teams from the TNM Super League face early elimination in the inaugural Fisd Challenge Cup this afternoon and tomorrow. The winners will join victorious regional teams in the round of 16.
For teams such as Moyale Barracks, Mafco and Azam Tigers that missid out on the Carlsberg and Presidential Cups and the Super League is seemingly beyond grasp, theFisd Challenge Cup is, in all reality, their last hope to end the season gloriously.
In today’s matches, Azam Tigers host Blue Eagles at Kalulu Stadium, Moyale face Epac at Mzuzu Stadium, Mafco play Dwangwa United at Chitowe, Nyasa Big Bullets face PremierBet Wizards at Kamuzu Stadium while Silver Strikers host MTV Max Bullets at Silver Stadium.
Bullets team manager Rahim Ishmael said they will exercise a lot of caution against Wizards.
“Cup games are always tricky and Wizards in particular, are unpredictable. We beat them 3-0 recently in a league game, but in the first round, they held us to a goalless draw. So, we will exercise a lot of caution,” he said.
The centre of focus in today’s clash will be former Wizards playmaker Telekeleni ‘Anzeru’ Joseph who scored on his debut against his former team.
However, Wizards technical director Peter ‘Mjojo’ Mponda opted to play mind games, saying: “The odds are stacked against us. Bullets are the favourites, they are a big team. We will just go out there and give out our best shot.”
Tomorrow, ‘Mighty’ Be Forward Wanderers face Karonga United at Kamuzu Stadium and Civo United face Mzuni FC while an all army affair at Balaka Stadium awaits Red Lions and Kamuzu Barracks.
Having watched Wanderers lift the Carlsberg Cup and Nyasa Big Bullets the Presidential Cup, Mafco coach Thomas Maloya, whose team top the Super League, said failing to win Fisd silverware would be disastrous to his reign.
Mafco last won a trophy in 2013 when they beat Silver Strikers in the Presidential Cup.
“Missing out on two trophies is painful but it would be more painful if we don’t win this one. There’s no guarantee we can claim the league title so I am praying that we don’t fall short again in this tournament,” he said in an interview on Thursday.
Maloya also hopes to win the cup in order to save his job as the Mafco executive committee gave his technical team a target to “win at least a trophy this season.”
Azam Tigers last won a trophy, the phased out Standard Bank Cup, over five years ago and technical director Robin Alufandika said they are eyeing the Fisd Cup to end, in his words, a long and painful trophy-less spell.
“We need to win something to appease the supporters. The Super League title is technically beyond our reach so this cup is our last hope of ending the season on a high,” said Alufandika whose team is ninth on the Super League ladder.
On his part, Red Lions coach Collins Nkuna confessed being under pressure to deliver against a club that is unpredictable when it comes to cup games.
“Our plan this season is to win at least one trophy and having missed the Carlsberg and Presidential cups, we can’t afford to miss this one,” he said.
Civo United have also been struggling in the league and their general secretary Thomas Makiwa said they are eyeing the Fisd Cup as a consolation.
“It’s not going well for us in the league, but we are optimistic we can win this trophy,” he said.
The most eye-catching fixture this afternoon is between Tigers and Eagles. The Kau-Kay Boys have proved to be lethal upfront as evidenced by the 7-1 hammering of Karonga United in a Super League tie recently while Eagles have struggled to get goals having gone three matches without scoring.
Tomorrow, Wanderers and Karonga will be meeting barely two weeks after they clashed in the league so too Silver and Max Bullets.
The Nomads clobbered Karonga 4-0 but the latter’s coach Kondwani Mwalweni said the Lali Lubani Road outfit should not expect another walk-over this time around.
“This will be a different altogether,@ he said. n