The football fraternity will have a glimpse of what the new season holds when they watch big guns battle it out in the Football Association of Malawi (FAM) Charity Shield with Nyasa Big Bullets facing Kamuzu Barracks (KB); before Be Forward Wanderers and Silver Strikers take to the Bingu National Stadium (BNS) turf this afternoon.
The Shield, which curtain-raises the TNM Super League launch next week, will see the victors face off in the final tomorrow while the losers will battle for third-place.
Bullets, the Shield’s defending champions, earned their right to the tournament after winning the Carlsberg Cup, Wanderers are the Super League champions and Silver bagged the Airtel Top 8 while KB won the Fisd Challenge Cup.
The teams have been talking tough ahead of the tournament with all vowing to give their best in the competition whose part of the gate proceeds go to charity. This year’s proceeds will benefit Ekwendeni School for the Blind in Mzimba.
The KB vs Bullets encounter will be more like a repeat of last season’s Charity Shield—then a two-team contest—in which the People’s Team triumphed 3-1.
The soldiers have always fallen short in the face of Bullets. When the two sides met in the Carlsberg Cup final last season, it was Bullets who reigned supreme. The People’s Team also claimed a double victory in the Super League.
KB captain Harvey Nkacha said: “Ndinthawi yobwezera chipongwe [It’s now payback time. I have confidence that we can achieve this.”
Nkacha draws his confidence from the return of a host of his team-mates, who last season played peripheral roles as they were undergoing military training.
“About six players that were not with us due to military training are back with us. They are like new signings,” he said.
Bullets, who have won the Shield twice, have boosted their squad with some new signings.
Striker Bright ‘Bweke’ Munthali looks certain to be their trampacard if his performance during pre-season games is anything to go by, after scoring 11 goals in 10 matches.
Recently, they added former Civil Sporting Club midfield maestro Righteous Banda and Precious Phiri from Azam Tigers to their squad.
“Our target is to do well during the competition. We know KB is a good side and we won’t rely on our past successes. This is a new game,” Bullets team manager James Chilapondwa said.
He said they will be without injured defenders Emmanuel Zoya and Miracle Gabeya while playmaker Mike Mkwate has also been ruled out.
On the other hand, Wanderers team manager Steve Madeira views the Charity Shield more like preparations for the new season in which they will push to retain the title.
“It’s part of our preparations for the 2018 season. However, we are hoping to win the Shield so that we have a psychological edge over the other teams in the coming season,” he said.
Wanderers will, however, have to make do without the injured duo of versatile defender Ted Sumani and evergreen sweeper Harry Nyirenda.
Silver have also been hit with injuries. New catch Lazarus Nyemera and Thuso Paipi are doubtful, according to team manager Francis Songo.
But he was optimistic that they can do better in the competition which he says will measure the level of their preparedness for the new Super League season.
“We will give our best performance against Nomads so we can reach the final of the competition and go on to win it. Wanderers is a good side but we have showed previously that they are beatable,” he said.
When the two teams met in the Super League last season, the first round ended goalless while the Bankers won the second round tie 2-1.