Blantyre derby preview: Can Wanderers finally beat Bullets?

Be Forward Wanderers have not beaten Nyasa Big Bullets in a league match since 2012, but with both teams seemingly hitting form, who will walk away with the bragging rights after 90 minutes of football on Saturday afternoon at Kamuzu Stadium in the Blantyre derby? Andrew Cane Chilapondwa reports.

Bullets players in training

The hosts come into the highly anticipated clash sitting top of the TNM Super League after Bob Mpinganjira’s side have endured a consistent start to the ongoing 2019 season and could have amassed more points had it been they collected points over Moyale Barracks and Silver Strikers at home.

Rarely has this match seen both teams in fine form at exactly at the same time. The two teams are just separated by three points, with Bullets sitting second with 39 points but with a game in hand to play.

Wanderers will look to stretch their lead at the top to six points and the only way to do that is to beat Bullets, a side they have never beaten for the past seven years.

In the first round, the two sides shared one point a piece, a match which was highly dominated by Bullets.

In terms of injury doubts, the Nomads have no injury concerns unlike their neighbors who will be without captain John Lanjesi, winger Righteous Banda and defender Miracle Gabeya.

Nomads assistant coach Oscar Kaunda says he is very confident of ending Bullets’ dominance over his side.

“It’s a very difficult game altogether but my boys knows very well that pride is at stake and we need to get a result in order to increase our lead at the top as well as ending their dominance over us,” he told the local media.

On the other hand, Bullets are masters of Blantyre derbies.

In the first round, they had more than four of their key players sidelined due to injuries but they outclassed their rivals who were saved by William Thole’s heroics.

For the past 12 meetings, the defending champions have six wins over their cross-town rivals.

Head coach Calista Pasuwa believes that he has the right artillery to upset the log leaders.

“It’s a very big match considering that we are playing one of the top teams in the land. We play our usual game so that by the end of the day, three points should be in the bag,” he said.

The past three seasons have seen the two teams sharing a point a piece but nevertheless, the derby, under any circumstances remains the favored calendar fixture in Malawi’s top flight despite other team’s mission of trying to reduce the gap between them and the Blantyre giants.

Potential match winners:

Name: Chimango Kayira

Position: Defending midfielder

Club: Nyasa Big Bullets

The former Escom United defensive midfielder has revamped his form under Pasuwa and has established himself as the key man for Bullets’ title defence. He produced a man of the match performances against Civil Sporting and Karonga United and he is fitting well with Pasuwa’s latest formation.

Name: Peter Banda

Club: Nyasa Big Bullets

Position: Midfielder

Peter Banda, son to the former Bullets legend Chikondi Banda, is widely labeled as the next big thing in Malawi’s football and has been a breath of fresh air for the TNM Super League.

According to his club, it didn’t take long for the winger to catch the attention of football lovers during his debut season with the defending champions.

He signed for Bullets at the start of the 2019 season after some impressive performances for Griffin Young Stars and Flames under 20 and 23.

Name: Nenani Juwaya

Club: Be Forward Wanderers

Position: Goalkeeper

A product of Mighty Tigers, Nenani Juwaya is one of the best shot-stoppers in the country. He is undoubtedly the man for the big occasion. Unparalleled prowess in his ball distribution married to his skills and playing ability is more than any coach could ask for in a goalkeeper.

In the on-going season, he has only conceded twice, both goals from the spot and Bullets will struggle to score past him.

Name: Francisco Madinga

Club: Be Forward Wanderers

Position: Midfielder

Madinga is seen as a quiet player who gives his all whenever he is in action for the Nomads. The attacking player was first spotted and recruited while playing for Namiwawa FC in the junior leagues. Technically gifted, creative and quick, the exciting prospect has shown he has all the necessary qualities to play in a number of roles for the team, though he generally plays on the left wing.

Previous five meetings:

In 2014:

Bullets 2-0 Wanderers

Wanderers 0-1 Bullets

In 2015:

Wanderers 1-2 Bullets

Bullets 1-0 Wanderers

In 2016:

Bullets 1-1 Wanderers

Wanderers 0-1 Bullets

In 2017:

Bullets 1-0 Wanderers

Wanderers1-1 Bullets

In 2018:

Wanderers 0-0 Bullets

Bullets 1-1 Wanderers

Blantyre derby has always promised to entertain, but after a few less than impressive clashes in previous seasons, there is no doubt the derby has to some extent, lost its x-factor, as fans across the country have been given very little to celebrate.