A grand closing deserves grand opening. The 2022/ 23 football season gets underway this afternoon as TNM Super League champions Nyasa Big Bullets face FDH Bank Cup kings Silver Strikers in the NBS Bank Charity Shield at Kamuzu Stadium.
The match comes two weeks before the kick-off of the TNM Super League, slated for March 19.
Surely, the match offers both teams a perfect opportunity to fine-tune ahead of the league kick off.
Interestingly, Bullets and Silver also met at the same venue in the Airtel Top 8 Cup final on December 18 last year which was the official closing match of the 2020/21 football season.
This is a grudge battle as the two teams are familiar foes on the pitch in domestic football. They shared fortunes in four matches last season.
Silver defeated Bullets 1-0 in the first round of the league but the People’s Team won the return match 2-1.
They also met in the FDH Bank Cup quarterfinals in which Silver won 4-2 on post-match penalties before Bullets claimed a 5-3 win in the Airtel Top 8 Cup final.
Heading into the match, the two teams had mixed fortunes on Thursday when they participated in pre-season friendlies.
Bullets lost 2-1 to rookies Sable Farming whereas Silver defeated fellow Super League side Mighty Tigers at Mpira Stadium.
However, it could be wrong to read too much into Thursday’s matches results as teams featured several players. Bullets have rich history in the Charity Shield, having won it since 2016.
Probably, Bullets coach Kalisto Pasuwa will be looking to continue their dominance in the competition.
After the game on Thursday, Pasuwa was impressed with fitness levels of his charges.
“We are building a new side and we still need to do more with the boys for us to start winning matches,” Pasuwa said.
In the Charity Shield match, Bullets will likely put their hopes on Nigerian striker Babatunde Adepoju, Selemani, Chimwemwe Idana, new signing Hadji Wali and goalkeeper Rabson Chiyenda.
Sounding calm and composed, Silver assistant coach Macdonald Yobe said his charges were ready for the match.
“It is the first game of the season so this match will give us a clear picture of how the team is prepared. Both clubs have new teams and we should not focus much on last year’s results,” Yobe said.
The Bankers boosted their confidence ahead of this afternoon’s match after beating Tigers 2-0 thanks to Chawanangwa Kaonga’s brace.
Kaonga is likely to lead Silver’s attack alongside gangling forward Stain Davie. Duncan Nyoni, Blessings Tembo, Patrick Macheso and Nickson Mwase are also potential match winners for Silver.
Bullets are participating in the NBS Bank Charity Shield after winning the 2020/21 TNM Super League with 62 points whereas Silver won the FDH Bank Cup following 2-0 victory over Ekwendeni Hammers.
Meanwhile, NBS Bank presented uniforms to both Bullets and Silver at Mpira Village in Chiwembe, Blantyre Township yesterday.
The bank’s Head of Marketing Tamanda Longwe described the partnership with Football Association of Malawi (Fam) and Red Cross as timely boost to help people who have been affected with floods across the country.
“We are happy we have come together with Fam, Red Cross Society and us [NBS] to help those affected people. As a caring bank we thought it wise to buy uniforms for the two teams to give the match its befitting honour,” Longwe said.
On her part, Malawi Red Cross Society of Malawi’s Prisca Chisala said they decided to join Fam and NBS to help those affected by floods.
“Our duty is to come and help so we will work hand in hand with our partners in this initiative,” Chisala said.
Fam General Secretary Alfred Gunda said the association was overwhelmed with the way their partners have supported the cause.
“We believe that we will have a good game and we are ready to roll out the season on a high,” he said.
Both Bullets Team Manager James Chilapondwa and Silver Captain Young Chimodzi Jnr hailed NBS for dressing the teams.
NBS has injected K15 million in this year’s Charity Shield.