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Silver, Civil tussle for Airtel Top 8 Cup final slot

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By Mabvuto Kambuwe

The Capital City will be divided for at least 90 minutes when Silver Strikers and Civil Service United renew their rivalry as they clash in the Airtel Top 8 Cup semifinal at Bingu National Stadium this afternoon.

At stake is a place in the final as the winner will face Nyasa Big Bullets next week.

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As usual, the Lilongwe derby brings noise and more drama as bragging rights are also at stake.

There is a lot of expectation from both sides. Civil are hoping to reach their first Airtel Top 8 Cup final whereas Silver are eyeing a double this season after winning the inaugural FDH Bank Cup.

Additionally, Silver, who are also holders of the cup, will be looking to make history by becoming the first team to win the cup thrice in four years.

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Silver won the inaugural tournament in 2017 after beating Mighty Wanderers (then Be

Forward Wanderers) 10-9 on post-match penalties before winning it in 2019 after a 1-0 victory over Karonga United.

Blue Eagles won the 2018 edition after beating Bullets 1-0.

Both sides know the importance of the match and are likely to exercise caution this afternoon.

On paper, the Bankers have the best squad compared to their rivals but the ‘Civil Servants’ play as a unit like swarm of bees, building attacks from the back.

This is the third meeting between Civil and Silver this season.

In the first round of the super league, Civil beat Silver 2-1 at Civo Stadium before a 1-1 draw in the second round at Silver Stadium.

The two sides also met in the 2018 Airtel Top 8 Cup quarterfinals in which Silver dumped Civil out of the competition after a 2-1 aggregate victory.

Sounding calm, Civil Coach Franco Ndawa said his troops were aiming for nothing short of winning the cup this year.

“The feeling is great in our camp and we hope this is our year to win it. It will be a tough match but the boys are prepared,” Ndawa said.

Civil have one of the best defence in this competition having only conceded a single goal.

On a good day, Lawrence Chaziya, Bashir Maunde, Willard Dickson and John Dambuleni can form a water-tight defence.

In-form striker Lanken Mwale, Muhammad Sulumba and Binwell Katinji can cause plenty of problems to defenders.

Silver Assistant Coach Macdonald Yobe was optimistic that his charges will reach the final.

“The players are in good frame of mind. We are holders of the cup and we cannot afford to surrender it at this stage. But we just need to put our hearts together so that we win the match,” Yobe said.

In all fairness, Silver are completely a changed side under Zambian Daniel Kabwe.

They play tactical football with compact defence comprising Nixon Mwase, Mike Robert, Maxwell Paipi and Mark Fodya.

In midfield, Taonga Chimodzi, Zebron Kalima and Blessings Tembo have qualities to crash any force in domestic football.

Upfront, Stain Davie and Patrick Macheso are carrying Silver’s hopes in this afternoon’s match.

Silver dumped TN Stars out of the competition following a 5-1 win on aggregate. They beat Stars 1-0 in the first leg before a 4-1 win in the second leg as both matches were played at Chitowe Stadium.

Civil, knocked out Karonga United 3-1 on aggregate after winning the first leg 2-0 at Silver Stadium before a 1-1 draw in the second leg at Karonga Stadium.

The winner of the Airtel Top 8 Cup will pocket K17 million whereas the runner-up will get K5 million.

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