Table toppers Wanderers and second placed Nyasa Big Bullets clash at Bingu National Stadium this afternoon in a titanic battle whose outcome has the potential to blow the title contest wide or turn it into a one-horse race.
Marching into the match, the Nomads lead the People’s Team with seven points having amassed 54 points from 23 games though the latter have a game in hand. A win for Wanderers would open a 10-point gap but a Bullets triumph will cut the margin to four and that will, as a matter of consequence, energise third-placed Silver Strikers’ weakening title hopes.
History does not make a good reading for Nomads though. The last time they beat their rivals in a league tie was five years ago. Their latest faltering was in the first round encounter as they were handed a 1-0 defeat.
In the past 21 league meetings dating back to 2007, the People’s Team have won nine while the Nomads have chalked six victories. The other six ended in draws.
Wanderers also harbour fresh memories of bitterness having also lost to Bullets in the Carlsberg Cup final a couple of weeks ago.
But the People’s Team assistant coach Elia Kananji has said they will not rely on their past dominance.
“If we dwell in the past, we will be complacent and that can be dangerous. All we want is to win this game. This is why our game plan will be to defend cautiously and attack ceaselessly,” he said.
Bullets could be without defenders Pilirani Zonda and Yamikani Fodya who are nursing injuries, according to Kananji.
“They will face a late fitness test. If they fail it will be a blow. However, we have a squad of 30 players so replacing them will not bother us much,” he said.
If they are ruled out, Bullets have Bashir Maunde, Miracle Gabeya, John Lanjesi and Emmanuel Zoya at their disposal.
In the opposite camp, there is one injury concern as defender Lucky Malata is out, according to the Lali Lubani road outfit coach Yasin
“Every player is available apart from Malata who suffered an injury last week,” he said.
Osman dismissed suggestions that the league title will be all but sealed if they win the match and create a 10-point gap.
“A win will be significant but it will not mean we have won the title. There’s still a long way to go,” he said.
Hitman Esau Kanyenda and Peter Wadabwa are carrying Nomads’ attacking hopes. Versatile Joseph Kamwendo, crafty Jabulani Linje and Alfred Manyozo Junior, who has just returned from a lengthy ban, are expected to be deployed in midfield while Harry Nyirenda, Stanley Sanudi and Ted Sumani will offer the defensive shield.
When poaching for goals, Bullets will probably rely on Chiukepo Msowoya and Bright Munthali, a hat-trick hero in the Fisd Challenge Cup encounter against Karonga United on Wednesday.
The midfield will likely be manned by Henry Kabichi, Chimango Kayira and evergreen Fischer Kondowe.