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Whose riches?

Ekwendeni Hammers, Silver Strikers tussle for FDH Bank money

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In the face of great need, a champion will rise to the occasion.

This saying will most likely come to pass as Silver Strikers and Ekwendeni Hammers battle for the ultimate prize in the final of the inaugural K90 million FDH Bank Cup at Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe this afternoon.

At stake is K25 million, the highest prize money in the history of any sports competition in the country. The runner-up will get K8 million.

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On paper, Silver are considered favourites as they boast of talent but Hammers have demonstrated the heart of a lion having defied all odds to reach this far.

Interestingly, Silver and Hammers have shared fortunes in the league this season.

Hammers claimed a 1-0 win over Silver in the first round before the Bankers avenge with a 2-0 victory in the reverse fixture last week.

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However, both sides had the luxury of resting some of their key players in the league match and it looks likely that they will reshuffle their teams again today.

On their way to the final,

Silver cleared the biggest hurdles in the competition after beating Blantyre giants Nyasa Big Bullets 4-2 on post-match penalties in the quarterfinal match before thrashing Mighty Wanderers 3-0 in the semifinal.

Hammers have reached the final in their debut TNM Super League season and will have nothing to lose.

They defeated Ntopwa 2-0 in the quaterfinal before edging Rumphi United 3-2 on post-match penalties after regulation time ended goalless.

Silver Assistant Coach MacDonald Yobe said he knows the threat Hammers pose.

“We are not taking Ekwendeni lightly. We need to be focused and exercise caution. We cannot afford to relax at this stage,” Yobe said.

The Central Bankers will undoubtedly go into the match under pressure, having failed to win the league after a good start.

Their coach Daniel Kabwe will likely keep faith in goalkeeper Charles Thom, with Nickson Mwase, Maxwell Paipi, Mike Robert and Mark Fodya providing the shield.

Tawonga Chimodzi, playing in a deep-lying role, will be charged with the role of neutralising Hammers’ attack while Blessings Tembo and Zebro Kalima concentrate on the task of breaking up the opponents’ defence.

In Maxwell Phodo’s absence due to injury, lanky forward Stain Davie and silent assasin Patrick Macheso will lead the front line.

Hammers Coach Etson Kadenge-Mwafulirwa said they are fancying the underdog tag ahead of the match.

“Let Silver underrate us at their own peril. We remain underdogs but we have a small knife ready to cut a big tree,” Mwafulirwa said.

Hammers have seasoned campaigners who have been in this situation before on several occasions.

Veteran Harry Nyirenda will lead the defence upon passing a late fitness test alongside Jimmy Msiska, Emmanuel Kaunda and Jack Maulana.

In midfield, Patrick Banda has the qualities to stop Silver’s attackers. Blessings Singini and Chawanangwa Gumbo, on a good day, can cause plenty of problems.

Ghanaian striker Michael Tetteh, who runs like a speed boat, has the quality to score vital goals with support from Clever Kaira and Sammy Phiri.

Road to the final:

Silver

Round-of-32: Immigration 1 Silver 2

Round-of-16: Silver 2 Moyale Barracks 0

Quarterfinal: Silver 4 Bullets 2 (post-match penalties)

Semifinal: Silver 3 Wanderers 0

Hammers

Round-of-32: Hammers 2 Airborne Rangers 1

Round-of-16: Hammers 1 Wanderers Reserve 0

Quarterfinal: Hammers 2 Ntopwa 0

Semifinal: Rumphi 2 Hammers 3 (post-match penalties)

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