Written by JOE CHIBEWA
LILONGWE-Hearts must be throbbing in both camps as the clash they have been waiting for is finally here. This is a war which must be fought to the last man, for the booty is big, big, big and quite mouth-watering.
Whoever carries the day will be smiling all the way to the bank next Monday with K10 million pay cheque and the glittering Presidential Cup to grace their trophy display shelf.
The battle ground is Civo Stadium in Malawi’s capital Lilongwe, where all roads will be leading to on Saturday afternoon. Yes, it will be a grand finale to the protracted Presidential Cup race between Moyale Barracks FC of Mzuzu and Big Bullets aka the Peoples Team of Blantyre.
The match, which was postponed at the eleventh hour last week was expected to be played at Kamuzu Stadium on Sunday, but was moved to Civo this Saturday due to the closure of the country’s biggest and oldest sports facility pending structural engineering inspection following reports that some stands have developed cracks thereby posing a safety risk.
The development was a huge letdown to the soccer fraternity in Blantyre and surrounding districts in southern Malawi, who were all set to watch what has been dubbed a grudge cup final.
But the change of the venue, while it is a big disappointment to the Blantyre fans, most of whom would have rallied behind the Peoples Team, may as well be a blessing in disguise for the Malawi Defence Force team from Kaningina as they certainly will enjoy massive support from their fellow soldiers from Kamuzu Barracks, Mafco and Mvera Support Battalion from Salima.
But Big Bullets should not feel down in the mouth as they equally command a huge following in the capital. Both teams have come a long way, so to speak, as when the last time Bullets qualified for a major cupthe Standard Bank Cupfour years ago, it was Moyale who deprived them of the honours on post-match penalties.
That defeat still pains up to this day and we believe it will be payback time when [we] clash on Sunday, Bullets general secretary Higger Mkandawire told a local daily, The Nation, in an interview published Friday.
Bullets are banking on a deadly striking force of new sensation Gabadinho Mhango, Diverson Mlozi and veteran Heston Munthali who have of late enjoyed a rich vein of form, banging in goals for the Peoples Team in both cup and league games.
Dubbed the three musketeers the trio can tear apart any defence and hit the target with ease, especially with the youngster Gabadinho at his best. But Bullets are vulnerable in defence and have let in some stupid goals in the recent past. Their goalkeeper, Owen Chaima, has oftentimes let in goals that could easily have been saved had he been steady enough between the posts.
And Moyale will be stepping on Civo stadium a highly charged and motivated side after their commanders promised them participation at an army teams international competition sometime this year if they win the Presidential Cup this Sunday.
On paper, the odds seem to favour the Bullets. In the TNM Super League, the 6th placed Peoples Teams are rungs above the Kaningina Lions, who are third from the bottom of the 15-team league.
But Moyale team manager Kazizwa Banda wonders why their position on the league table should bother them and warned the Bullets not to underrate them on that premise, saying they are out to repeat 2008 when they beat Bullets at Kamuzu Stadium before their own adoring fans.
Again this time, Gabadinho or no Gabadinho, we are not afraid of them ready and we are ready to prove that we are cup experts and are here on a missionto cart the Presidential Cup and the money to Mzuzu, Banda told Maravi Post, adding that their chances have been enhanced.