Having played second fiddle to Nyasa Big Bullets, going winless in 10 straight TNM Super League meetings, rivals Be Forward Wanderers have a monkey they must get off their back heading into this Saturday noon’s blockbuster at Kamuzu Stadium.
The five-time champions Wanderers, who last defeated Bullets in the league in 2011 and last won the league championship 10 years ago, have a moral obligation to restore the credibility of the Blantyre derby going into this second round grudge affair.
On their day, the Nomads can defeat any team. And they badly need such a win now if they are to rescue a league campaign that is taking a very familiar downward path on the log table.
Having already lost thrice, Wanderers are on eighth position with 29 points, four points behind the fifth-placed defending champions and eight points adrift of leaders, Blue Eagles.
In the league, Wanderers are smarting from a 1-2 loss and a 0-0 draw against Mafco and Dwangwa United, respectively. Bullets too fired blanks in barren away draws against Moyale Barracks and Mzuni.
On paper, no other local team has the depth in the quality and experience like Wanderers, but an imbalance in defensive positions, chopping and changing in the starting XI, undermines their cause.
Seasoned midfielder, Joseph Kamwendo, who is expected to feature in an attacking midfield role in front of Rafik Namwela and Alfred Manyozo jnr, is in no doubt that Bullets will come with their guns blazing.
“We are playing a very good team and we are struggling. It is going to be war. We, too, want to fight for the championship. There is still a chance for us to catch up with Bullets and the rest of the championship chasing pack,” Kamwendo said.
The Nomads hope to hand debuts to new Nigerian signings—Adekola Ayinla and Ebuka Ozochukwu—, but both are attackers. Wanderers, whose defence pillar Foster Namwela is a doubt for this match, need more ball winners if they are to win this tie.
Not that Bullets are performing any better, but they know how to grind out results, and are unbeaten in all competitions at Kamuzu Stadium, whereas Wanderers have lost twice here.
Coach Eddington Ng’onamo. will miss the services of winger Isaac Kaliyati but welcomes back striker-in-chief Peter Wadabwa.
Bullets too are limping their way through the campaign. However, they have a relatively clean bill of health following the return from injuries of Chikondi Likwemba, Ernest Kakhobwe and Bashir Maunde.
Mike Mkwate and John Lanjesi are still out.
Kakhobwe might get the nod between the sticks with Maunde helping to shore up the defence. Kondwani Kumwenda might get a run against his former team with striker, Collen Nkulambe, set for his Blantyre derby debut.
During the week, Bullets’ Team Manager, Rahim Ishmael, whose side has been unconvincing with strikers, Muhammad Sulumba and Chiukepo Msowoya, struggling for form, downplayed the availability of the Nigerians in Wanderers’ camp.
“Let Wanderers come up with their best squad. They are free to feature the Nigerians. They are their players after all. But what we know is that they are not from another planet. They are just human as our players are,” Rahim said.
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