Cometh the hour, cometh men and cometh the Blantyre derby.
Domestic football giants Mighty Wanderers and Nyasa Big Bullets open the first installment of the 2021 season when they renew their rivalry at Kamuzu Stadium this afternoon.
Surely, whichever way you look at it, when the Blantyre derby comes around, the football gods go crazy.
There is a lot at stake in this afternoon’s match; apart from points, Blantyre City bragging rights are at stake.
It will be a weird Blantyre derby as it will be played before a limited number of fans due to Coronavirus restrictions.
This is the 67th league derby between the two sworn rivals since the top flight league was introduced in 1986.
Heading into the match, the two giants are separated by eight points, with Bullets on second position with 25 points from 12 matches whereas the Nomads are on position 10 with 12 points from the same number of matches.
For the past four seasons, the Blantyre derby has failed to produce the winner since Bullets beat Wanderers 1-0 at Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe in 2017.
Since 2013, the Nomads have never beaten Bullets in a league match.
The last time the Nomads triumphed was in 2012 when Wanderers beat them 2-1 courtesy of Nafe Msasa’s brace whereas Bullets’ consolation came from Robson Banda.
In the last 16 matches involving the two rivals, Bullets have claimed seven victories, eight draws and lost once in 2012.
Both sides boast of top-class players in domestic football. In comparison, Wanderers have a more experienced side whereas Bullets have put faith in youngsters blended with experience.
Heading into the match, Bullets are full of confidence, having ended Civil Service United’s unbeaten run after registering a 2-1 victory last week at the same venue.
On the part of Nomads, they were on bye last week after a hard fought 2-2 draw with Blue Eagles a fortnight ago.
Nomads Captain Alfred Manyozo Junior anticipates a tough clash.
“Derbies are unpredictable but we, as players, are determined to break the jinx against Bullets,” Manyozo said.
Wanderers Coach Bob Mpinganjira will rely on leading striker Babatunde Adepoju, Felix Zulu, Vitumbiko Kumwenda, Yinusa Sheriff and Stanely Sanudi.
On his part, Bullets Coach Kalisto Pasuwa was cautious ahead of the clash.
“For one to win the derby, we need to put everything in place. We have a good squad and we hope that the better team will win. We should not focus much on Wanderers’ position on the log table, it is a derby where one can prove you wrong,” the Zimbabwean said.
Veteran defender John Lanjesi, Chiukepo Msowoya, Misheck Selemani, Precious Sambani and Chimwemwe Idana are carrying Bullets’ hopes in this afternoon’s match.
Elsewhere, Mzuzu Warriors will host Ntopwa FC at Mzuzu Stadium this afternoon.
Action will continue tomorrow as leaders Silver Strikers face Tigers FC at Silver Stadium whereas Red Lions host Moyale Barracks at Mpira Stadium. Ekwendeni Hammers will face Ntopwa at Mzuzu Stadium.