The stage is set perfectly for the 2016 Carlsberg Cup final. Be Forward Wanderers and Silver Strikers will battle it out in the cup’s final today at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre.
It promises to be a thrilling encounter with both teams keen to win the competition and pocket a whopping K10 million.
There is also history at stake. Wanderers want to become the first team to win the competition for a successive time whereas Silver are hoping to win it for the first time.
Silver cannot just wait for what is their first ever Carlsberg Cup final appearance since the introduction of the competition in 2000.
Silver and Wanderers have been regular combatants in cup games having met in the final of the now defunct Standard Bank Knock-Out Trophy in 2012 and 2013.
Wanderers have only lost a single cup final against Civo United (last season) in the previous seven cup final appearances.
In the previous two cup final meetings, Wanderers dominated having won both affairs against Silver. However, a cup final is unpredictable and can go either way.
On the other hand, Wanderers have been struggling against Silver, especially at Kamuzu Stadium.
However, the Nomads have been enjoying meetings against the Bankers in Lilongwe.
In a league match this season, Wanderers came from behind to beat Silver 2-1 at their own backyard Silver Stadium.
In today’s encounter, Silver will pin their hopes on Thuso Paipi, Victor Limbani and Duncan Nyoni whereas Nomads will rely on Harry Nyirenda, Jafali Chande and Rafik Namwera. And of course, Peter Wadabwa and Lucky Malata.
Since the introduction of the competition in 2000, Wanderers and Nyasa Big Bullets have won it twice whereas Moyale Barracks, Blue Eagles and Kamuzu Barracks have each won it once.
Wanderers were inaugural winners and are also defending champions having won it last year after beating Bullets 2-1 in Lilongwe.
Forward Wadabwa has been in top form for Wanderers having netted crucial goals this season.
He is the top scorer for Nomads in all competitions and he will be up against his former employers, who off-loaded him before the start of this season.
Probably, Wadabwa might know Silver inside-out. He could one of the potential match winners for the Nomads.
But Silver assistant coach, Lovemore Fazili, believes that Wadabwa is not the only threat in Nomads’ camp.
“Why should we focus on one player only? It is 11 against 11 and every player is dangerous in a cup final, so we have a big plan to deal with the team not one player,” Fazili said.
In this final, Nomads assistant gaffer, Elijah Kananji, will be on the spotlight again as he is looking to become the first coach to win the competition for a third straight year.
Kananji won the cup while in charge of Bullets in 2014 before achieving the feat again with Wanderers last year.
Kananji on Thursday said he was not under pressure.
“The cup belongs to us and we have kept it beyond Silver’s reach. Actually, the Carlsberg Cup is just like my pillow. I will always keep it safe,” he challenged.
Silver defence pillar, Malata, is probably one of the best performers of the competition.
Malata has been the key member for Silver this season.
Silver have been playing attractive football this season, thanks to Technical Director, Young Chimodzi’s impact.
The former Flames tactician has been an invisible hand giving instructions to Fazili from the VIP stand.
It will be a battle between two seasoned coaches, Eddingtone Ng’onamo and Chimodzi. Ng’onamo was expected back from Denmark yesterday. However, Kananji has done the sped work.
Road to the final Nomads
Wanderers’ road to the final has been easy on paper but certainly not on the pitch.
On their way to the final, Nomads, save for Kamuzu Barracks (KB), faced lower league teams.
The Nomads beat their reserve side, Nomads Youth 1-0 in round of-32 before knocking KB out with a 2-0 victory in the last-16.
Wadabwa scored against the youth side before he found the back of the net again alongside Jimmy Zakazaka in the match against KB.
In the quarterfinals, Wanderers beat Prison United 1-0, courtesy of Wadabwa again.
The Nomads booked their second Carlsberg Cup final after a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Mangochi Police at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre, courtesy of Ishmael Thindwa goal.
On their way to the final, the Central Bankers have played relatively stronger opposition.
Silver beat Capital City rivals, Civo United, 1-0 in round of-32 game before defeating Zolozolo FC 4-1 in round of-16.
Silver reached the semifinals after beating Red Lions 1-0 before thrashing Mafco 3-1.
A vibrant writer who gives a great insight on hot topics and issues