The Blantyre derby is set for Sunday at Kamuzu Stadium but mind games have started ahead of the epic battle between traditional rivals Mighty Mukuru Wanderers and Nyasa Big Bullets.
Wanderers have taken a swipe at some of the country’s top referees ahead of the derby, saying a similar fixture last year ended with some violent scenes due to biased and substandard officiation.
In a letter dated August 11, 2022, addressed to Super League of Malawi (Sulom), Wanderers have lodged a complaint saying they do not want a repeat of what happened in May last year.
“It is our hope that any of the people responsible for that game will not be deployed in this weekend’s match against our rivals and all our future games.
“We still feel injured with failure of Sulom to revert to us with remedial actions taken. To remove doubt, we do not want referee Gift Chiko and assistant referee Bernadette Kwimbira to be part of this coming match and all our future games,” reads part of the letter, signed by Chairperson of Commercialisation Clement Stambuli.
Last year, the Nomads lodged a complaint against the officiating panel after the team drew 1-1 against Bullets at the same venue.
Both Wanderers and Bullets had a goal each disallowed as the match was abandoned in the 80th minute due to violence.
During the match, a man, believed to be a Bullets fan, was also spotted pouring urine at one of the goal posts.
NRA General Secretary Chris Kalichero confirmed receipt of Wanderers’ fresh complaint.
“Wanderers have the right to express their views. We respect them and the issue will be sorted out amicably,’’ Kalichero said.
On his part, Bullets Chief Executive Officer Suzgo Nyirenda said they will not be involved in mind games.
“It is all Wanderers making noise. Teams without tactics blame officiating personnel. Nobody favours us and we do not choose who to officiate our matches. When you beat everyone, envy comes in and we are not surprised,” Nyirenda said.
Probably, both teams go into the match with their morale boosted after reaching the quarterfinals of the FDH Bank Cup last week.
Wanderers claimed a 3-0 win over Dedza Dynamos Salima Sugar whereas Bullets beat Moyale Barracks 4-2 on post-match penalties following 4-4 draw in regulation time.
For the Nomads, revenge will be their mission to close the gap with Bullets in the title race and also give back their fans something to smile about this season, having lost the first round match 2-1 at the same venue.
For Bullets, the mission is to continue from where they left and widen the gap in the title race. Additionally, they would also want to preserve their unbeaten run this season.
Bullets are at the summit of the log table with 48 points from 18 matches, 12 points above second-placed Blue Eagles, who have played a game less. Wanderers are third with 32 points from 17 matches.