28 April 2018 02:51
Bitterest rivals, Nyasa Big Bullets and Be Forward Wanderers, meet for the first time this season in a top-flight first-round league match on Saturday at Bingu National Stadium, Lilongwe.
The season in Malawi started two weeks ago and the derby will certainly light up the campaign.
The Blantyre derby has not taken place in the commercial capital, Blantyre, since 2016 due to the closure of Kamuzu Stadium which both teams call home. Nonetheless, bragging rights are at stake between defending champions and six-time winners, Wanderers, and record 12-time champions, Bullets.
Bullets are in top shape having won all their last four consecutive matches, including the Charity Shield, while letting in one goal. Nicknamed The People’s Team, they have built on their last season’s form that saw their defence voted the best after conceding the least goals – 10, in 28 games as they finished second.
Coached by Rodgers Yasini, Bullets have not lost in the league to Wanderers in their last 11 matches, a reason to walk with a spring in their step. Bullets won 1-0 then drew 0-0 last season when the two faced off.
The current run of Bullets pales in comparison to two wins and two losses for Wanderers in the last back-to-back games, starting from the Charity Shield. In those last four games, the Nomads have conceded four goals, an average of one per game. But such is the crazy nature of derbies they always fashion unimaginable twists to the tale.
Wanderers Coach Yasin Osman admits derbies defy logic as pride is at stake.
“I look at this as a mere meeting between rivals. It is just another fixture we have to fulfil. It is a game of tension and anything can happen in this sort of game,” Osman said.
The performance of Wanderers, who emerged from the pre-season with doubts hanging over their shoulders, has been far from convincing. But six points in two opening league games suggest that the Nomads still know how to grind out results.
Bullets’ midfielder Fischer Kondowe has vowed to beat Wanderers in the derby.
“We cannot to lose such a kind of a game. We just have to win,” Kondowe said.
In this game, Bullets might feature Ernest Kakhobwe, John Lanjesi, Pilirani Zonda and Emmanuel Zoya manning the defence, Chimango Kayira, Henry Kabichi, Righteous Banda and Kondowe keeping the midfield pot boiling.
Veteran striker Chiukepo Msowoya and Bright Munthali are assured starters upfront.
Wanderers might feature Richard Chipuwa in goals, behind Harry Nyirenda, Lucky Malata, Stanley Sanudi and Denis Chembezi in defence.
Kamwendo should dictate play from midfield while being assured of Yamikani Chester, Alfred Manyozo and Isaac Kaliyati’s support. Peter Wadabwa and Esau Kanyenda might start upfront.