Domestic football giants, Be Forward Wanderers and Nyasa Big Bullets, rekindle their rivalry when they meet this afternoon in a TNM Super League first-round match at Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe.
It is that time of a season when the Blantyre rivals’ fans taunt each other, saying, “neba mutu sukugwira (neighbour, you are confused).
The first Blantyre derby was played between 1969 and 1970 at the then Rangeley Stadium (now Kamuzu Stadium) in Blantyre.
Interestingly, Nomads Coach, Yasin Osman, reportedly scored the only goal of the derby as Bullets won 1-0, months after Osman had switched from blue to red.
Since the derby started, fans from both camps have engaged in verbal tirades on who owns Blantyre City bragging rights.
Since the league was introduced in 1986, Bullets and Wanderers have met 62 times in league games.
Surely, whichever way you look at it, when the Blantyre derby comes around, the football gods go crazy.
For at least 90 minutes, the Blantyre derby keeps fans on the edge of their seats.
Last season, Bullets beat Wanderers 1-0 in the first-round round, courtesy of Emmanuel Zoya’s goal before playing out to a 1-1 draw in the second-round at the same venue.
Joseph Kamwendo scored from a free-kick before Chiukepo Msowoya equalised for the People’s Team.
Both teams go into the match full of confidence, having made a bright start to the season after winning two games each.
Nomads beat Silver Strikers 2-1 and Masters Security 1-0 whereas Bullets opened the season with a 1-0 victory over Kamuzu Barracks before defeating Moyale Barracks 2-0.
Nomads’ fans might approach the match in a restless mood because they have turned into Bullets’ punching bags in the league in the past five seasons.
Bullets have won seven matches against Wanderers with four matches ending in draws in the last five years.
Wanderers Team Manager, Steve Madeira, anticipates a tough encounter this afternoon.
“We are the defending champions and we deserve respect and respect is earned by winning games like these. We need to push our fellow title contenders behind us. There is a saying that you have to respect your opponents before beating them, so because of this saying we respect Bullets,” Madeira said.
His Bullets’ counterpart, James Chilapondwa, said despite dominating league meetings against Wanderers in recent years, this afternoon’s match will be tricky.
“We know that apart from points, pride is at stake so we know the importance of the game. We believe in team-work and we will approach the match seriously. If we can get maximum points, it would be good for us,” Chilapondwa said.
Both sides have assembled good squads.
In today’s match, Wanderers are likely to rely on Peter Wadabwa and Esau Kanyenda upfront with Joseph Kamwendo, Alfred Manyozo Junior and Isaac Kaliati at the hub of the team.
In defence, Lucky Malata, Peter Cholopi, Dennis Chembezi and Precious Sambani will provide cover to either William Thole or fit again Richard Chipuwa.
Yamikani Chester is also available for selection after missing the opening two games but Harry Nyirenda is still out due to injury whereas Bullets have received a boost after Miracle Gabeya and Mike Mkwate returned from injury.
Msowoya and Bright Munthali will likely lead Bullets’ frontline with Chimango Kaira, Bashir Maunde and Fischer Kondowe in midfield whereas John Lanjesi, Yamikani Fodya and Pilirani Zonda will be at the back to protect goalkeeper Ernest Kakhobwe.
In other games this afternoon, Azam Tigers host Mafco at Mulanje Park Stadium whereas Karonga United welcome Civil Sporting Club at Karonga Stadium. Mzuni have invited Blue Eagles at Mzuzu Stadium whereas Nchalo United face TN Stars at Kalulu Stadium.
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