The 2022 edition of the Airtel Top 8 Cup enters the half-way stage of the quarterfinal phase with teams preparing for return matches starting from this weekend.
The cup’s defending champions Nyasa Big Bullets kick off the matches with a visit to Karonga for an encounter with Karonga United Friday.
Some 24 hours later, Mafco host Mighty Mukuru Wanderers at Chitowe Stadium in Dwangwa, Nkhotakota.
Four others that are also vying for semifinal slots in the competition, Blue Eagles, Dedza United, Silver Strikers and Kamuzu Barracks, are in action next weekend.
With 14 goals already scored in just four first leg matches, it is expected that the current edition of the cup will bring out the highest number of goals.
The cup is being played for the fifth time since inauguration in 2017 and achieved its highest number of goals (28) in the 2017 and 2021 editions.
There should be little doubt, therefore, that the current edition will be laden with goals, having already halved the highest ever total in an entire competition in just four matches.
Top scorer for the 2018 edition of the competition which had 12 goals, Joseph Kamwendo, said he believes that this year’s competition will have the highest number of goals.
Kamwendo, who scored two goals for Mighty Mukuru Wanderers, said he expects the goal tally to exceed 20 by the end of the quarterfinal stage.
“We saw Babatunde [Adepoju of Bullets] winning last year’s golden boot award with eight goals and we all applauded him. Such an achievement is what will inspire other players to work harder as they fight to win this award.
“We are currently seeing outstanding talent from teams such as Bullets, Silver and Blue Eagles. Players such as Patrick Mwaungulu and Zebron Kalima will make this competition quite exciting,” he said.
Kamwendo said he expects stiffer competition in the semifinals as teams will step up the fight for the season’s last piece of silverware.
“The higher you go, the tougher it becomes. Whoever goes through to the last four should not expect to get the ticket to the final on a silver platter. Bullets have won the league title and the FDH Bank Cup, and the other teams are desperate to finish the season with some silverware as well,” the former Malawi National Football Team captain said.
Meanwhile, Silver have announced the return of winger Duncan Nyoni, who was on the injury list.
The club’s website reports that Nyoni and goalkeeper Charles Thom started light training last week.
“The availability of Nyoni gives the coaches an extra attacking option upfront as the team seeks to get to the competition’s semi-finals via a second leg of the quarters and, should he pass the fitness test, he will provide competition to the wingers that were available in the first leg last weekend,” silverstrikers.mw reports.
Silver are also looking forward to the return from injury of captain Mike Robert and his vice Chisomo Mpachika.