Today sees Nyasa Big Bullets taking on city rivals Mighty Be Forward Wanderers in the Chifundo Charity Shield at the Civo Stadium.
Bullets go into the game as the favourites having dominated their city rivals for the past two seasons.
It has been claimed the game is nothing more than a hyped up friendly, which, to be fair we have seen both teams fielding weakened line-ups in the past, much like preseason friendlies.
However, on this occasion I can’t help but predict it will be much more like a clash of rivals rather than a friendly kickabout.
Team selection: Number 1 spot up for grabs? Following the withdrawal of Vin Gona due to injury, Bullets acted swiftly in finding a potential replacement by signing Ernest Kakhobwe from Azam Tigers on a free transfer.
Encouraging a good performance from Kakhobwe are fellow Goalkeepers Owen Chaima and Chimwemwe Kumkwawa.
These three Goalkeepers have raised an interesting selection dilemma for Bullets coach Franco Ndawa, albeit a pleasant one.
Continuity for a new goalkeeper is an important consideration, therefore Saturday’s selection will offer an insight into Ndawa’s thinking as the same keeper will be allowed an extended opportunity to establish himself.
Due to a composed performance in the friendly against Dynamos, Chaima may be favoured though he should expect a sterner test when attempting to claim crosses against a physical Wanderers team.
Who at right back? Bullets have included three possible left backs in their team to face Wanderers (Yamikani Fodya, Chiku Kanyenda and Emmanuel Zoya). Zoya’s inclusion in Bullets’ friendly against Dynamos suggests the defender has won the trust of Bullets technical panel.
Fodya on the other hand, enjoyed a period at right back last season and may be considered first choice regardless of Chiku Kanyenda’s availability.
Three man midfield In the three matches against Wanderers last season, Bullets decided to mirror their local rivals by using a 3-5-2 formation.
The first encounter at the Kamuzu Stadium was a high intensity affair with the Nomads commanding the midfield battle, however they lacked attacking thrust to prosper from their slight advantage as they went on to lose 2-1.
The contest’s supremacy was evenly matched in the return fixture as Chiukepo was unable to repeat the wonders he performed in the previous encounter and the Bullets midfield struggled to cope with Rafiq Mussa’s presence.
At the Civo Stadium, Bullets controlled the midfield early on, unfortunately the People’s Team were unable to capitalise and paid for the missed opportunities when Wanderers grew warming to the task and eventually took command. In what is considered a glorified friendly, will Ndawa opt for a variation on 3-5-2? Or will he remain true to form a three man midfield? I am leaning towards the latter with Chikondi Likwemba, Henry Kabichi and Dalitso Sailesi likely starters.
The impressive Ng’ambi may also be considered while the evergreen Kondowe is another option.
Key battles Enock Likoswe vs Chiukepo Msowoya For me Likoswe has proved himself. He’s proved to be an absolute steal of a signing.
His judgement is a massive strength. Chiukepo has shown himself to be in the elite when it comes to attacking talent and Likoswe will prove a strong opponent for Chiukepo.
Rafiq Mussa vs Henry Kabichi
Rafiq Mussa is an imposing figure. So Bullets will have their work cut out to match Mussa’s physical presence in attacking scenario.
He is likely to patrol the midfield, but Kabichi will be given a task to quash his influence in deeper positions.
Stanley Sanudi vs Dalitso Sailesi :Sailesi has proven he can play at a top level for Big Bullets with some eye-catching performances. Sanudi seems to be held in high regard by Wanderers fans and has been consistent since his 2015 transfer from Tigers.
If Sailesi can really turn on his game against Sanudi he will prove to be a real test for the Nomads player.