A fierce battle is expected at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre this Sunday as the country’s football giants Mighty Mukuru Wanderers and FCB Nyasa Bullets clash in Castel Challenge Cup semi-finals.
Bullets, who are already in the Airtel Top 8 final, will be eyeing for yet another place in the last two while for the Nomads, the Castel Challenge Cup is their last opportunity for them to avoid a trophy-less season.
Wanderers head coach Mark Harrison said they need to grab the opportunity with both hands.
“We know this can be our last opportunity to win the trophy. We have been talking about this with the players. We know how important it is to a football club to try to win trophies,” he explained.
Having already won the TNM Super League and the FDH Bank Cup, Bullet are dreaming of a quadruple and Wanderers will be hoping to put a halt to this.
But Harrison is aware that taking out Bullets this Sunday is just one step towards their ambition of finishing at least with a silverware.
“You know it will be an interesting game and also a tough one, but if you want to win more, you have to beat the best, and, also beating Bullets doesn’t mean it will be simple for us in the final. We will also have to work in order to win it,” the English tactician explain.
On his part, Pasuwa said he expects a tough opponent as Wanderers are hungry for silverware and the Castel Challenge Cup is their last chance.
“It is going to be a very difficult game against a team that wants it more. A team that is hungry for what is left on the table for them. We expect everything from them.
“Remember when we played them in Lilongwe in Airtel Top 8 final when they were facing a trophy-less season. It’s a game which went all the way to the penalties and we ended up losing,” he recalled.
But Pasuwa warned Wanderers that his charges are aware of what is at stake in this derby and will fight all the way.
“That’s a derby we are playing. In a derby you don’t need to be told. That’s one area for us as coaches. At times like these, we leave it to the players because they know what it means to wear a badge of Bullets and what a derby is all about.
“The legends of the team who are in the technical panel such as Fischer Kondowe and Heston Munthali played in derbies before and they have been telling the players how if one plays well in a derby he is rated highly in the country.
“We all are ready. We have been preparing for the game since Monday and the boys are responding well and we hope on the match day it will be the same,” he added.
Battles between Wanderers and Bullets under coaches Harrison and Kallisto Pasuwa have always been intensive.
Each have won once in their last four meetings.
Harrison beat Bullets on penalties to claim the Airtel Top 8 last season to ensure the Nomads finish at least with a trophy while Pasuwa claimed the Charity Shield at the beginning of the 2023 season.
The two sides’ meetings in the TNM Super League both ended in stalemate.
But Bullets have won the last thee three semi-final ties against Wanderers, twice 2018 and 2021 Airtel Top 8 as well as in the 2022 FDH Bank Cup.
To make it to the semi-finals Bullets swept aside Lipulumundu Stars, Soche Socials, Civil Service United and Ekwendeni Hammers.
The Nomads on the other hand, saw off Friends of Mulanje Orphans (FOMO), Red Lions, Moyale Barracks and Katete Rangers.