By Mabvuto Kambuwe:
Nyasa BIG Bullets, representatives in Confederation of African Football (Caf) Champions League, face a mammoth task when they take on Kenyan giants Gor Mahia at Moi International Sports Centre, Nairobi, in the first leg match this evening.
And, this afternoon, Silver Strikers have another tough assignment against Gabonese side AO CMS in the Confederation Cup in Libreville.
The Malawian teams will host their respective counterparts in the second leg next week.
Bullets and Mahia are meeting for the first time in the Champions League but they clashed in Cecafa Club Championship in a game which ended 1-1 in 1985.
The People’s Team must exercise caution against the Kenyan giants, who warmed up for the game with a 4-0 loss to Everton at Goodson Park in the United Kingdom recently.
Perhaps Bullets hope to take advantage of Mahia, who have been rocked by off-the pitch incidents.
Bullets Coach, Kallisto Pasuwa, told Kenyan media that their target was winning tonight’s match and finish off their opponents in the second leg.
“The fact that we have been active can be a good thing to us but, again, there are tired legs in the squad. We just want the boys to have the right mentality and see what happens on Wednesday night [tonight],” Daily Nation of Kenya quotes Pasuwa as saying.
Bullets will likely feature Sankhani Mkandawire, Yamikani Fodya, John Lanjesi and Pilirani Zonda at the back with Chimango Kaira, Henry Kabichi and Nelson Kangunje keeping the supply lines open.
In the absence of Patrick Phiri, Bullets will keep faith in Bright Munthali and Chiukepo Msowoya to score goals.
The hosts have boosted their squad with striker Nicholas Kipkirui and defender Zoo Kericho. Mahia camped in Nakuru County for a week ahead of the match.
Mahia interim Coach, Zedekia Otieno, also told Kenyan media that his charges are ready for the match.
“We have had our training session as planned. So far, so good. I am glad [that] all players are in good shape. [They] have shown desire to offer their best,” Otieno is quoted as saying.
Lobi Stars of Nigeria or US Loum from Cameroon stand in the way of the winner between Bullets and Mahia.
Bullets last participated in the Champions League in 2015 but exited from the first round after a 6-2 aggregate loss to Sudanese giants Al Hilal.
In Gabon, Silver expect to play under wet conditions after persistent rains in Libreville.
But Silver Coach, Lovemore Fazili, said his charges are in high spirits, hoping to grind out a good result.
“We will approach the game seriously so that we get a positive result. The weather conditions here are not an excuse and we want to play our normal game,” Fazili said.
Silver have travelled with a strong squad comprising goalkeepers Brighton Munthali and Steven Micheta.
Nigerian defender Yinusa Sherriff, Chisomo Mpachika, Herbert Wayekha and Mark Fodya are expected to form a back-four with Young Chimodzi Junior, Duncan Nyoni and Levison Maganizo at the hub of the team.
Upfront, Ghanaian striker Michael Tetteh and Khuda Muyaba will form a deadly combination.
The overall winner of the match face RD of the Democratic Republic Congo or Raja Cansablanca from Morocco.