MAFCO vows to flight to the end, Pasuwa warns on complacency

So many talking points from this Saturday’s Airtel Top 8 final which has pitted 2023 season’s most outstanding teams at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre.

As Mafco and FCB Nyasa Bullets, who also clashed in FDH Bank Cup final in October, tussle in this grand finale, the two teams’ coaches Kallisto Pasuwa and Prichard Mwansa have promised to dish out their best in the last fixture of the extended season.

Bullets won the FDH Bank final 3-0 in a match the Salima-based Malawi Defence Force soldiers failed to live up to expectation as they were outclassed by The People’s Team.

The soldiers return to the Kamuzu Stadium with a shadow hanging over them, with sceptics hesitating to give them a benefit of a doubt. To them, Mafco is already dead an buried at Kamuzu Stadium.

But Mafco coach Mwansa says the past is where it belongs—in the past—and that they will go flat-out in their second final of the 2023 season.

“We played them in the final and we lost. We are meeting them again. It’s another game. We learned from that loss and we have planned for this one properly. This time we will fight to the end. We will fight from the first whistle to the last one,” Mwansa warned.

Taking Mwansa’s warning for granted will be a big mistake for anyone who has followed their fairy-tale road to the final.

Mafco started their campaign against fellow MDF side Mafco on October 1 in quarter-finals first leg clash at Dedza Stadium.

The two sides settled for a goalless draw as they both fired blanks in the thrilling encounter.

In the second leg, Mafco scored early through Dan Chimbalanga, but KB levelled the score line as the match ended 1-1 as the Salima-based outfit progressed to the last four on an away goal rule.

In the semis, Mafco faced Silver Strikers at Bingu National Stadium and nobody gave them a chance to go past the fired up Bankers.

Silver went on to take the lead through Patrick Macheso in what seemed to be a routine victory for the Bankers.

However, everything went south for the Bankers once Prince Kachere equalised for with 12 minutes to full time.

Mafco showed their character in post-match penalties as they converted all but one penalty only converted one and missed three to ended 3-1.

“It felt so good to make it to the final after booting out Silver. But that is in the past. We are now concentrating on the final against Bullets which we know is going to be another tough match for both teams,” he said.

Having already bagged three trophies—Super League title, FDH Bank Cup and Castel Cup—Bullets feel like they are on top of the world as they chase a quadruple.

But Bullets coach Kallisto Pasuwa admitted that they need to put their last cup final against Mafco behind and be vigilant in this cup final.

“Mafco is side not underrate. An aggressive team very good also on counter-attack football and at times they also can keep possession.

“So, one area we in our camp we are mainly afraid if is complacency. You can see even the mood of the boys it’s a game to say it’s already done.

“But in football you can’t be doing that until the game is finished. I am one person who can’t say I am going to win before you play.”

To make the final grade, Bullets knocked out Civil Service United 3-2 aggregate in the semi-final before booting out Blue Eagles 3-2 as well in the semi-final.

Though in their own class, Pasuwa knows that Bullets have plenty of weaknesses that can cost them the quadruple dream.

One of them is failing to utilise scoring opportunities as witnessed in the Castel Cup final against Silver in which they had to come from behind and win on post-match penalties 4-2 after wasting plenty of chances.

“We need to be very accurate in terms of our attacking prowess. If we get chances we need to ensure we bury them.

“At times, these are cup games where you get very few chances and you need to take them so that you can own the advantage.”

Bullets also have a leaking defence which has seen them conceding twice in quarter-finals and semi-finals, a challenge Pasuwa attributed to his squad being predominantly of young players who lack experience.

“We have got a lot of youngsters in the team. You see teaching a youngster you teach the m today, tomorrow the next day, you keep on teaching him one-plus-one equals two; they can surprise you on the fourth day when you ask one-plus-one they will say it’s four. But then you need patience,” the Zimbabwean tactician explained.

This year, the Airtel Top 8 winner will walk home with K17 million.

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