Big Bullets and Blue Eagles have a chance of finishing top in the first-round of the TNM Super League if they can win their last games this weekend.
The winner of the first-half of the season, is assured of a K200 000 (about $526) prize at the end of the season.
While it does not always go by script that winners of first-round stand a good chance of winning the title, some have gone on to claim the ultimate prize. Escom United did it during the 2010/11 season and Silver Strikers achieved the feat two seasons later.
Bullets are at the top with 28 points from 13 games. They will finish the first-round tomorrow (Sunday) at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre against second-placed Blue Eagles who are trailing by two points, but have a game in hand.
Bullets will also be handicapped going into tomorrow’s battle without their key defenders—captain Sankhani Mkandawire, Yamikani Fodya and Bashir Maunde. Mkandawire and Fodya are away in Benin with the Flames while Maunde is nursing an injury.
“It is tough playing such an important game without three key defenders, but we have faith in the other players. We want to finish the first-round at the top because it will give us a boost going into the second-round,” said Bullets coach Elia Kananji.
However, the cops have a chance to go top if they can win against Azam Tigers this afternoon at the same venue, but it is tomorrow’s showdown that will be the half season decider.
And even without his key midfielders John Banda and Phillip Masiye, coach Deklerk Msakakuwona is confident they can conquer the Kau-Kau boys. Eagles also have other potential match winners in the likes of Schumacher Kuwali, Charles Ngosi, Mecium Mhone and John Malidadi Jnr.
Ironically, Bullets and their age-old rivals Mighty Wanderers will be on different missions. While Bullets are aiming a top-slot finish, Nomads will be taking aim at moving out from the relegation zone.
Nomads, who anchor the league with eight points from 12 games, have tricky fixtures away in the sugar plantations of Dwangwa. This afternoon, they take on Mafco before engaging rookies Airborne Rangers tomorrow(Sunday).
Wanderers head to Chitowe with their backs to the wall as they will be without five key players. Their first-choice goaltender and captain Richard Chipuwa as well as left-back Francis Mulimbika are away in Benin with the Flames while key forwards Innocent Dzimbiri, Cuthbert Sinetre and midfielder Peter Mpulula are out with injuries.
Despite the setback, Nomads coach Gerald Phiri put on a brave face, insisting that they are determined to get out of the relegation murky waters.
“Military teams are doing very well and we have struggled against Mafco, especially when playing at their backyard, but we have the belief that we’ll come out of Chitowe bruised but triumphant.
“We need to win both games or at worst get four points, otherwise it will be quite disastrous for us. If we can win both games then we could move three or four places up which could be a huge relief,” said Phiri who will bank his hopes on the likes of Luka Milanzi, Kondwani Kumwenda, Kondwani Lufeyo, Bongani Kaipa and Victor Mpinganjira.
The first-round will end next weekend when the three remaining matches will be played.