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Lilongwe rivals talk tough

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A makeshift football pitch designed with dugouts and a glittering trophy on the centre-circle summed up the grand Thursday night as Airtel Top 8 Cup Season Two was officially re-launched at Capital Sunbird in Lilongwe

During the re-launch, Head of Airtel Money, Chris Sukasuka, sat in the dugout like the head of a technical panel with Football Association of Malawi (Fam) Vice- President, James Mwenda, leading the opposite bench in another dugout.

It was a moment the football fraternity had been waiting for and it lived up to its expectations as this year’s trophy was launched under the theme ‘ Where Football Lives’.

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The peak of the night was the draw for this year’s competition, which only involves top-eight teams in last year’s TNM Super League.

The talking point of the night was the draw that pitted defending champions Silver Strikers against Capital City rivals Civil Sporting Club.

Civil will start the competition at home before the away second-leg.

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The first legs of the quarter-finals will be played on May 5 and 6,.

Reacting to the draw, Silver Team Manager, Francis Songo, said he expects an open game against their traditional rivals.

“There was a lot of speculation on social media but the draw gave us more surprises than expected. It is always a tough and unpredictable game against Civil but we know how to win the Airtel Top 8 Cup,” Songo said.

Taking his turn, Civil General Secretary, Ronald Chiwaula, whose team finished fourth last season and will be participating for the first time in the tournament, described the draw as fair.

“Actually, we wanted them more than any other team. This is our chance to

show them that we are Capital City kings,” Chiwaula said.

For the second consecutive year, Blantyre giants Nyasa Big Bullets and Be Forward Wanderers avoided each other in the quarter-finals, having been pitted against Moyale Barracks and Kamuzu Barracks.

In another quarter-final match, Blue Eagles will start with a home fixture against Mafco FC.

Before the draw, all the participating teams received new kits from Airtel Malawi.

Speaking during the event, Sukasuka said they anticipate another exciting tournament this season.

“After a successful tournament last year, we are looking forward to staging another successful cup. This year, we want to go where football lives by involving the community from the start to the end of the tournament,” Sukasuka said.

Mwenda appealed for a violence-free cup, saying: “We will not tolerate people to dent the name of our sponsors. Let football be the winner.”

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