With a seven point gap between the two sides, this afternoon’s Blantyre derby has to be considered the biggest to both clubs as it is capable of deciding this season’s championship destination especially if the current TNM Super League leaders emerge victorious over their bitter rivals.
With Be Forward Wanderers 7 points clear, this is a must win game for the second placed Nyasa Big Bullets if they are to close the gap and keep their chances of winning the championship alive.
In the first round, Bullets got the better of their rivals with a 1-nil victory courtesy of Emmanuel Zoya’s 6th minute strike from a Fischer Kondowe’s corner kick before beating them again in the 2017 Carlsberg Cup final at the same Bingu National Stadium.
For the past six seasons, Bullets have enjoyed a smooth ride over the Nomads in the top flight but the league leaders have vowed to break the jinx and walk away with maximum points.
The onus is on Bullets to chase the game so one would expect them to deploy a 4-4-2 formation with Chiukepo Msowoya partnering Muhammad Sulumba upfront.
The pair have started some games together scoring more than 7 goals between them. The duo are likely to rotate positions in the said formation with either able to play behind the other to greater effect.
Bullets will thus likely have Kondwani Kumwenda and Nelson Kangunje playing in a more reserved position behind their two strikers with Fischer Kondowe and Mussa Manyenje on either side, both looking to get inside.
It is this potential narrowness that could suit Wanderers who will likely play Felix Zulu and Isaac Kaliyati on either flank to stretch the play.
The Nomads will go for the veteran in-form Esau Kanyenda and Jafali Chande while Joseph Kamwendo and Alfred Manyozo will be deployed in the middle of the park to make things happen for the Lali Lubani boys.
The midfield battle will be a crucial one so if Wanderers opt to play Kanyenda and Chande up front, one would expect to see Chande drop into the midfield to make it a centre midfield of 3 when the Nomads don’t have the ball. If this happens, they would be well placed to counter-attack when they win the ball back through their pacey wingers on the flanks.
The result of this might be that Manyenje and Kondowe are forced to do slightly more defending than they would like by tracking the two Wanderers wingers, which will also mean that the full-backs have to play more cautiously than they would against sides who do not opt for out and out wide men, as Wanderers do.
With Wanderers suffering that 1-nil defeat earlier this season, one would expect them to revenge. Nothing less than a win will do for the Nomads who are striving to end their 12 year Super League championship drought. Victory over Bullets would act as a huge psychological boost going into the final games of the season.
On the other hand, Bullets have to win this game if they are to stop Wanderers from running away with the title. The victory will reduce the current gap to four points, with Bullets having a game more to play, surely they will be in contention for their 14th Super League title.
Wanderers will be without Amos Bello, Ishmael Thindwa, Francis Mulimbika and Lucky Malata due to injuries while Bullets will be without Pilirani Zonda who is also sidelined ahead of the crucial encounter.
The battle lines have been drawn, the setting is at Bingu National Stadium, enjoy the talent.