By Antony Isaiah Jr:…….
Bullets, Wanderers are on the road as they seek to book the semifinal slot of Airtel Top 8
The defending Champions, Nyasa Big Bullets and Mighty Mukuru are travelling to Karonga and Dwangwa respectively as they look to book their slots in the semifinals of the season five of the Airtel Top 8 Cup.
Bullets have been hit by injury crisis as four of their stars, Babatunde Adepoju, Ernest Petro, Yankho Singo and Hadji Wali are all doubts in the return leg.
The people’s team are comfortably leading the tie by 7 goals to nill after an emphatic win at home [Kamuzu Stadium] a fortnight ago. Lanjesi Nkhoma scored two goals while Babatunde Adepoju, Stanley Billiati, Henry Kabitchi, Anthony Mfune and Precious Phiri netted once each.
The Team’s Media Crew had a pre-match pressing with the Head Coach, Kalisto Pasuwa who revealed that his four stars are doubts in their trip up North.
He said, “The preparations have been going very well except for some of the guys who are injured. We have Babatunde Adepoju with a swollen ankle and we have Ernest Petro with the same swollen ankle. Yankho Singo is also still on injury [alongside Anthony Mfune with a groin injury] and also missing is Hadji Wali, who is still on AWOL, but besides that all the other guys are available and we will see on the list that we have whom we can choose to take to Karonga.”
The TNM Super League and FDH Champions have been struggling to get good results at Karonga Stadium since the Crocodiles earned a Super League status.
In their last 4 meetings at the venue, Bullets have won only once [in 2019] thanks to Nixon Nyasulu’s 27th minute strike that gave Pasuwa’s boys maximum points. Clement Nyondo scored the only goal when Karonga United beat Bullets in 2019 while the two meetings ended in barren draw.
Visiting the venue where they struggle most, Pasuwa said despite having a health 7-0 advantage, they won’t take the game slightly as in football, everything can happen.
“We will not take the match lightly,” explained Pasuwa. “It’s a game like the first leg we played. Yes, we got a healthy lead but again we know with football, anything can happen because if we can score seven here [at home], the same thing can happen in Karonga, so we are very aware of it and we will take the game seriously.
“Karonga, not a bad side and not an easy place to visit, and you even saw them the second time we played them [in the Super League a week ago], very organized and it’s only maybe some of the mistakes they were doing and then conceding goals [to lose 4-1], but again we are playing in front of their home crowd and like you said, we have been struggling to play them [away], but we will make sure we collect every area that needs to be positive for us to come up with a result.”
Meanwhile, after winning the Super League, FDH Bank Cup, the Zimbabwean mentor have ruled out the mentality of winning the domestic treble.
He added, “Us as Bullets, we always play every game as it comes. We are in the quarterfinal and going into the second leg of it then we can talk after the semifinal, final and then we can talk of a treble-winning season.”
The winners between the two sides will face the winners between Kamuzu Barracks and Silver Strikers in the one-leg semifinal game at the venue to be announced later. Silver and KB played a 1-all stalemate in the first leg- The Bankers were at home away from home [Chitowe Stadium]
In another game, Mighty Mukuru Wanderers are travelling to Chitowe to face Mafco in the return leg after beating the Salima based Soldiers 2-0 at Kamuzu Stadium two weeks ago.
The winners of this tie will face the winners between Blue Eagles and Dedza Dynamos in another semifinal slot. The Area 30-based Cops are leading by 3 goals to nill.
Head Coach, Mark Simon Harrison who replaced Alex Ngwira said they will go into the game against Mafco with the mentality of having the game at 0-0.
” Look, this is going to be a tough game. We need to take the game at 0-0 because everything in football can happen. We need to give everything, press hard,” said Harrison.
Stereo Gondwe, Coach for Mafco after the game in the first leg was confident that his charges will manage to overturn the tables in the second leg.
“If they managed to score two goals at their home ground, this means that we can also do it at our home. We are a team which can manage to do that and we are going to do it,” said Gondwe.