Bitter rivals Be Forward Wanderers and Nyasa Big Bullets clash in the Blantyre derby this afternoon which could decide the Super League title contest for either side.
The Nomads will, most assuredly, step onto the Kamuzu Stadium artificial turf with their confidence somehow battered having witnessed—with bitterness—Bullets cut their lead from seven to three points.
A win will see Wanderers open a six-point gap while a loss would mean Bullets rising to the summit courtesy of a superior goal difference.
Wanderers have 44 points from 20 games while Bullets, with a game in hand, have 41 points.
These derbies, if history is a judge, favour Bullets. Since 2013 they have not lost a league tie to their cross city rivals. Added to that, the People’s Team also has the backing of a lethal striking force.
This far, they have bagged 45 goals. Wanderers have 38.
That amazing turnover is down to the relentless attacking football initiated by Mike Mkwate and converted by Hassan Kajoke and Chiukepo Msowoya.
Despite all that seems scary about Bullets, Wanderers team manager Victor Maunde is optimistic his side will carry the day.
“This time around they won’t get any luck because in 75 percent of the derby games we outplay them but they always get away with many draws,” he said.
The Nomads, who have won the title six times, will welcome back striker Vincent Nyangulu. He might not, in all sincerity, be the game changer though.
Wanderers must pray their leading striker Babatunde Adepoju rediscovers his scoring boots or hope that Zicco Mkanda rises to the occasion again.
They will also need fast men like full back Stanley Sanudi who always seem to be accelerating up and down on an invisible motorbike.
Attacking with pace, aggression and efficiency can unlock any defence, including the Bullets back four of Gomezgani Chirwa, Charles Petros, Nickson Nyasulu and Precious Sambani.
The 13-time champions are the more confident side going into the match. Times without number, Bullets have been dismissed as not good enough for the title. But there they are, just close to it.
Bullets coach Callisto Pasuwa rated Wanderers highly while warning his charges against relying on history.
“Wanderers are not at the top by fluke. They are a very good side. It’s not going to be easy for us to collect the points. I have been talking to the players that football is not about history,” he said.
The People’s Team will be without their injured captain John Lanjesi, but midfielder Mkwate, who was withdrawn during the match against Dwangwa last weekend amid an injury scare, is available for selection, according to Pasuwa.
Bullets ndikumadzulo, they say,. And as if to validate this maxim; when the season draws to an end, containing Bullets, is always a daunting task . They are ruthless and aggressive in equal measure.
But Wanderers have proved, times without number, that when their soul is weakening, they find their rhythm. If they survive this derby bullet, they can dream again.
In other fixtures, third-placed Kamuzu Barracks face Civil Sporting Club at Civo Stadium while sixth-placed Silver Strikers clash with Karonga United at Karonga Stadium.