After all has been said and done, it is time for Malawi representatives in Confederation of Africa Football (CAF) inter-club competitions—Nyasa Big Bullets and Silver Strikers—to know their fate as they host their opponents in second legs of the preliminary round this afternoon.
Both teams lost the first legs by 1-0 scorelines away. Champions League flag carriers Bullets conceded a painful late goal in added time to lose to Gor Mahia of Kenya at Moi International Sports Centre in Kasarani.
In contrast, Silver conceded an early goal to AO CMS in Confederation Cup at Augustin Monédan, Libreville Gabon.
The People’s Team now welcome Gor at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre while the Central Bankers host the Gabonese side at Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe.
The narrow away losses give the Malawi representatives some hope that they can upset tables in this afternoon’s encounters.
After their victories in domestic fixtures over the weekend, both Silver and Bullets are fired up ahead of the matches.
Bullets have all but won the TNM Super League after beating Azam Tigers 2-0 on Sunday while The Central Bankers booked a place in Fisd Challenge Cup semi-finals after booting out holders Kamuzu Barracks by the same scoreline over the weekend.
The trick now is to ensure they score at least two goals and not to concede to proceed to next stage.
Bullets coach Callisto Pasuwa yesterday said though hungry for goals, they will need to be extra careful to avoid conceding.
“We have been working on the shortfalls we noted in the first leg and the team looks good,” he said.
The Zimbabwean tactician is expected to maintain the team that lost in Kenya with Ernest Kakhobwe in goals.
The back four of John Lanjesi, Pilirani Zonda, Yamikani Fodya and Miracle Gabeya is expected to keep on short leash Gor forwards George Odhiambp, Erissa Ssekisambu and Francis Mustafa.
The midfield battle will be between Henry Kabichi, Chimango Kayira, McFarlen Mgwira and Righteous Phiri for Bullets against Gor’s Bernard Ondiek, Ernest Wendo, Humphrey Mieno, Samuel Onyango and overlapping left back Shafiq Batambuze.
Attacking midfielder Nelson Kangunje and the current TNM Super League leading goal scorer Chiukepo Msowoya, will partner up front in the hope of unlocking Gor defence of Philiemon Otieno, Batambuze, Joash Onyango and Harun Shakava.
Gor caretaker coach Zedekiah Otien, who will be assisted by Turkish Hassan Oktay, will be without their playmaker Francis Kahata and the duo of Kenneth Muguna and Jacques Tuyisenge, who picked injuries in the first leg.
The Kenyans are smarting from a 1-0 loss to Kariobangi Sharks in their domestic Super Cup.
In Lilongwe, Silver coach Lovemore Fazili is also expected to maintain the team that lost in Gabon.
Fazili is also expected to feature Brighton Munthali in goals, Yinusa Sheriff, Hebert Wayekha, Mark Fodya and Trevor Kalema in defence.
Young Chimodzi Jnr, Levison Maganizo, Thuso Paipi and Duncan Nyoni will play in midfield while in-form Khuda Muyaba and Mike Tetteh will complete the 4-4-2 formation up-front.
Fazili said they will aim at cancelling the visitors 1-0 lead in the opening minutes of the game, but will also be careful not to open up at the back.
“In Gabon, we played very well even after conceding early. The only problem is that we could not score. This time we need goals,” he said.
AO CMS coach Ondo Brice said he expects a tough match against Silver, but is confident of qualifying for the next round.
“Silver Strikers have more experience than us because it’s our first time to play in a CAF club competition. They play good football and we respect them. We have to be very good to qualify because it will be very bad if we lose. The 1-0 lead is not enough. We have forgotten that we are leading 1-0. We have to start all over as if we are not leading. We have to score early, if not it will be difficult if Silver score first,” said the coach through an interpreter.