It is a no brainer that defending champions Big Bullets and strugglers Civo United are desperate for a win stepping into their Kamuzu Stadium meeting this afternoon.
And when both teams get down to the 2015 TNM Super League first-round business, it will, in the clubs’ own admission, be a question of who wants it more— Bullets who are winless three games on the trot or Civo who cannot even spell the word victory this season.
Three straight draws or six points dropped for Bullets have been treated like defeats in the defending champions’ camp.
In that respect, Bullets’ technical director Billy Tewesa can afford to calm nerves that 10 games played, 20 points bagged with just a point behind leaders and rivals Be Forward Wanderers, is no cause for panic.
Tewesa has been preaching the football gospel that draws are part of the game and that strikers MussaManyenje and ChiukepoMsowoya, by not scoring enough, are merely going through a usual football rough patch.
“This will be a tricky affair. Civo keeping it down, treading short passes and being without a win should fire them up further. It is a question of who wants it more—we do. I hear, with John Lanjesi back, they want to turn the corner with a first win from this game, but we have home ground advantage,” Tewesa explained.
In this contest, Bullets have to find a way of getting past the tower that is Lanjesi, experienced left-back Emmanuel Zoya and up-and-coming centre-back Patience Kalumo, whose conversion from a holding midfielder has been a masterstroke for coach Oscar Kaunda.
The former Under-20 international Kalumo has bagged two man-of-the-match awards for his sterling performances. Flames selectors watch out. However, just like the Bullets, Civo’s 1-1 draws in the last two games against Epac and Blue Eagles suggest that it is not about the civil servants being leaky at the back, but not being fluent upfront.
Zoya agreed in a telephone line from Lilongwe with loads of hope in his voice that striker Nelson Kangunje, who has scored in the last two games, could deliver the goods today.
“Civo does not deserve to be number 15. It is simply unacceptable. We need a win as soon as yesterday. Off the pitch, respect is what we bring to Bullets, but we will try and forget that for 90 minutes. We have scored in the last two games and we hope that Kangunje can score against Bullets,” Zoya said on Thursday.
For all their rich tradition and enduring brand of shoeshine football, Civo sit embarrassingly bottom without a win in seven games or 420 minutes of football.
Such state of affairs makes today’s game tricky in every sense of the word. More so for the Bullets who cannot bear the sight of rivals Wanderers in front.
The absence of key players such as YamikaniFodya and Fischer Kondowe, who were with the national team, meant that the Bullets were training without key players; a factor Tewesa also partly blamed for the winless run. Fodya creates and also occasionally scores, especially through set-pieces.
While Bullets have Kondowe and Fodya to add some experience in defence and midfield, the onus of winning games rests on Msowoya and Manyenje to deliver the goods.