By Mphatso Malidadi:
Sworn-rivals Nyasa Big Bullets and Be Forward Wanderers are expected to renew hostilities when they meet in this year’s first Blantyre derby at Kamuzu Stadium this afternoon.
The encounter is set to draw the curtains for the Nyasa Big Four Bonanza, which kicked off on Friday.
The bonanza has also attracted Ferroviario de Nampula of Mozambique and Zimbabwe’s Chicken Inn, who meet in the opening game.
All the four participating teams have been undermining the significance of the results of their matches and, yet, when victory is achieved, the manner of celebration tells a different story.
Ferroviario de Nampula lead the tournament with four points, having defeated Bullets 2-1 on the opening day before fighting back to force a 1-1 draw against Wanderers on Saturday.
The Nomads are second with the same number of points but with an inferior goal difference after defeating Chicken Inn on Friday.
Hosts Bullets lie third with three points following their 2-1 come-from-behind victory over Chicken Inn 1-0 on Saturday.
The Zimbabweans anchor the table with no point after losing to Bullets and Wanderers.
So, as the four march to the soccer mecca with the essence of preparing for the new season, results will definitely matter.
The fans seem not to care about assessing their squads and just want nothing short of victory.
This means that, as Bullets and Wanderers renew their age-old rivalry this afternoon, it is obvious that both teams will aim for the kill.
The two crowd-pullers met thrice last year, including two encounters in the TNM Super League. Bullets won the first round league match 1-0 before managing a 1-1 stalemate in the second round.
In an Airtel Top 8 encounter, the People’s Team won 2-1 at Bingu National Stadium.
Bullets Coach, Kallisto Pasuwa, has blamed his players’ lack of fitness for the slow start to the bonanza.
But he also spoke of the need to rotate the squad so that all players get a chance to prove themselves.
On Saturday, Pasuwa made nine changes to the team that lost to Ferroviario de Nampula by bringing in key players such as captain John Lanjesi, striker Chiukepo Msowoya, and midfielders Chimango Kayira and Nelson Kangunje.
“We are still behind, in terms of fitness, and our reaction at the back has been slow. We are using the bonanza to assess our squad and come up with a squad for the new season. So, we will make some changes to achieve our goals,” he said.
Wanderers assistant Coach, Allan Kamanga, said they were not chasing a result, insisting that they just want to fuse young blood into the team.
“But, of course, we always do well whenever a competition has just been introduced and it is our wish to live up to our billing,” Kamanga said.
Wanderers have unleashed former Masters Security attacker Babatunde Adepoju and also promoted youngsters such as Wisdom Mpinganjira, Chikondi Kamanga and Aubrey Maloya.
Babatunde, besides showing touches of brilliance, has been guilty of holding onto the ball for too long in his quest to win supporters’ hearts.
But it is the performance of Francisco Madinga which is giving Wanderers hope as he has made a difference whenever he is introduced to the team from the bench.
Bullets have invested K50 million in the bonanza and are hoping to break even.
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