Civil Service (Civo) United unbeaten run in the 2020/21 TNM Super League faces a stern test this afternoon when they engage champions Nyasa Big Bullets at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre.
The contest also provides the Super League of Malawi (Sulom) with a timely test on how it will handle the issue of allowing 150 fans to watch top-flight matches following Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 decision to ease restrictions on public gathering from 50 to 250 for outdoor activities.
The Lilongwe-based Civil Servants stand proudly as the team to beat in the flagship league, having won six and drawn the same number of games, but they face an outfit that has turned their home ground into a fortress, having not lost a league game in over seven years.
The last time the People’s Team lost a league match at home was in November 2013 to Red Lions 2-3.
It is a feat that underlines Bullets’ dominance of local football, especially the league which they have won a record 14 times.
Civo are currently second in the 16-team league with 24 points from 12 matches, two points above Bullets who, however, have a game in hand.
It will be a battle for the second slot as whosoever wins will not displace leaders Silver Strikers who sit proudly at the summit with 28 points from 12 matches.
The Central Bankers are in action tomorrow when they host Chitipa United at Silver Stadium in the capital city.
Civo coach Frank ‘Franco’ Ndawa, a former Bullets mentor, yesterday said they are undaunted with Bullets’ remarkable run.
He said: “That we will be playing at their backyard does not bother us. Actually, our motivation is that we have been getting good results on the road.
“The crucial aspect was to prepare the boys psychologically so that they are not intimidated with the playing away factor.
“It will be a cracker. We are going there to win and we’ll give them [Bullets] a good game.”
On his part, the People’s Team gaffer Callisto Pasuwa said he is aware of the threat the Civil Servants pose to his team.
“The fact that they are unbeaten is a big motivation to them and we need to be cautious and keep up the momentum,” said the Zimbabwean tactician whose side has lost only once so far to Karonga United.
He also said they are hoping that their midfield workhorse Chimwemwe Idana and blossoming Stanely ‘Khama’ Billiat will pass late fitness tests so that they are available for selection.
On paper though, the odds are stacked in Bullets’ favour, having won both games last season.
They won the first round tie 1-0 away before demolishing the Civil Servants 6-0 in the return fixture.
But Pasuwa was a model of modesty yesterday, brushing off suggestions that his team are favourites.
The People’s Team will be buoyed by the return of their talisman Hassan Kajoke from injury and he should mesh potently with in-form Zicco Mkanda upfront while the visitors will bank their hopes on Lanken Mwale, Blessings Tembo, Binwell Katinji and Muhammad Sulumba.
At least 150 fans are assured of In other matches, Moyale Barracks date table-anchors Mzuzu Warriors in a Mzuzu derby at Mzuzu Stadium while Kamuzu Barracks host Chitipa United at Civo Stadium in Lilongwe.