By Mabvuto Kambuwe:
The hour is finally here. This is the moment of judgement and truth as Karonga United and Silver Strikers battle it out in the Airtel Top 8 final at Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe this afternoon.
The competition’s third season, themed Wakaaa!, promises to produce moments of joy, madness and sorrow.
But the harsh reality of a cup final is that one goes home in tears of joy, with the other shedding tears of sorrow.
At stake is K15 million prize money for the champions plus a glittering trophy, with the runners up pocketing K5 million as a consolation.
It is a weird encounter between two sides that are tussling in a cup final for the first time in the history of the game.
Statistically, the odds are against Karonga, having lost seven league matches against Silver.
Silver will be gunning for their second triumph in the competition, having won the inaugural edition in 2017 after beating Be Forward Wanderers 10-9 on post-match penalties whereas Karonga have defied all odds to go this far despite playing in the competition for the first time.
The lakeshore side will also be aiming at winning their first ever national trophy.
Karonga were rank outfielders at the start of the tournament but showed great character to make the final.
With Coach Dan Dzinkambani in charge, Karonga have a mentor who is not a stranger to winning cups.
Dzinkambani led defunct MDC United to victory in several cup finals and his experience could prove vital.
The coach, who also had a stint with Silver, said he confident of causing an upset.
“We are not scared. I have told the players not to give too much respect to Silver. We need the cup more and will fight to the end,” Dzinkambani said.
The attacking verve of Karonga, comprising Khumbo Msowoya and Gule Mwaisope, has to combine like a gang to break down the stubborn defence of Silver, consisting of Yinusa Sheriff, Herbert Wayekha, Trevor Kalema and Mike Robert.
Silver assistant Coach, Lovemore Fazili, said his charges were geared to become the first team to win the cup twice in three years since its introduction in 2017.
“We expect a tough final but we will do our best to get the cup. We might be favourites on paper but anything can happen. We also have to exercise caution because such games are always full of surprises,” Fazili said Both teams are likely to bank on their midfield formations, with Silver boasting Young Chimodzi Jnr, Enerst Tambe, Levison Maganizo, Victor Limbani, Thuso Paipi and Duncan Nyoni whereas Karonga have Chrispin Mhango, Victor Lungu, Andreas Genturo and Misheck Selemani.
Pilirani Thulu, William Mwalwimba and Lusekelo Malema are likely to provide cover to Karonga goalkeeper Happy Msowoya against the predatory instincts of Khuda Muyaba and Michael Tetteh.
Road to the final:
Silver Silver 2 Wanderers 0 (on aggregate)
-Silver 1 Masters Security 0
Karonga Karonga 1 TN Stars 1 (on aggregate, Karonga through on away goals rule)
-Karonga 5 Mzuni 4 (on post-match penalties)
Karonga 2 Silver 3 April 2019
Silver 4 Karonga 1 October 2018
Karonga 1 Silver 2 June 2018
Karonga 0 Silver 3 May 2016
Silver 5 Karonga 0 December 2016
Silver 6 Karonga 0 November 2014
Karonga 0 Silver 2 July 2014
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