After a bad outing last week, Nyasa Big Bullets and Silver Strikers have a chance to atone for their unconvincing start to the season.
The domestic football giants clash in the first leg of the inaugural Airtel Top 8 Cup quarter-finals at Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe this afternoon.
Having started the season on a low, both sides will be looking to put smiles on the faces of their fans in the two-legged quarter-final clashes.
Bullets started the season with a draw and a loss whereas Silver registered two draws.
The results might have sent shock waves in the two camps. For the fans, they certainly do not want to leave the stadium crest-fallen for a second consecutive week.
The winner of the inaugural competition will pocket K15 million plus a trophy.
This will be the second time this year for Silver and Bullets to collide at the same venue having met in the Wafawafa Big Four Bonanza which the People’s Team won 5-4 on post-match penalties.
Silver Coach, Lovemore Fazili, and Nsanzurwimo Ramadhan of Bullets face a mammoth task to motivate their players this afternoon.
Silver fans see the first leg as a perfect opportunity for a revenge of the 5-4 loss to Bullets in the pre-season bonanza.
On the other hand, Bullets will be looking to continue their dominance over the Central Bankers.
Silver had nothing to show in their trophy cabinet last season when they finished empty-handed whereas Bullets clinched the Presidential Cup.
In four previous meetings in all competitions, Bullets won twice whereas Silver prevailed once. The other match ended goal-less.
But cup games are always unpredictable.
Bullets have struggled to find the back of the net in two consecutive games with strikers Muhammad Sulumba and Mussa Manyenje firing blanks.
Fazili believes his side is mentally strong and ready to progress to the next round.
“Our approach is the same. We need to be serious from the word go to the last whistle. We need to utilise our chances. If we finish them in the first leg, then we will have an easy job in the second leg,” Fazili said.
The Central Bankers have assembled a youth squad having recruited 11 players. Surely, Silver fans are eager to see positive results.
On a good day, exciting wingers Thuso Paipi and Duncan Nyoni (though a major doubt) can cause plenty of problems to Bullets’ defenders.
Ghanaian Mike Tetteh, Green Harawa, Timothy Chitedze and Victor Limbani are some of Silver’s dangerous players.
Ramadhan told journalists on Thursday in Blantyre that his charges were determined to go all the way in the competition.
John Lanjesi, Fischer Kondowe, Chimango Kayira and Dalitso Sailesi are potential match winners for Bullets.
But defender Miracle Gabeya is still doubtful due to injury.
At Chitowe Stadium, it will be a case of friends turning into foes as Mafco host fellow soldiers, Moyale Barracks, in the first leg.
Moyale Assistant Coach, Charles Kamanga, is refusing to be flattered by their last weekend’s 1-0 victory over Bullets in a league match.
“We will go flat out to get a positive result so that we can have an advantage in the second leg. We know where and when to stop them,” Kamanga said.
Mafco gaffer, Temwa Msuku, said his troops were in a good mood ahead of the match.
“It is not an easy fixture. This is the same with tug-of-war. But we play a different style of football and we will definitely get a good result,” Msuku said.
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