It’s soldiers versus civilians in Airtel Top 8 semis

The ongoing Airtel Top 8 Cup competition goes into an interesting phase Saturday afternoon and after lunch Sunday as two top military sides line up against civilian heavyweights in what promises to be nerve-wrecking semi-final affairs.

FAM president Nyamirandu Show the Airtel Top 8 cup

KB chair Major Gift Njete leads a parade of league champions : They face a stern test in Airtel Top 8 semis against Silver

KB fans display a banner, photo Alex Mwazalumo

The revolution begins this afternoon at the Bingu National Stadium with cup specialists Mighty Be Forward Wanderers taking on Moyale Barracks from Malawi Defence Force’s (MDF) 3MR Unit.

The last semi-final battle will involve Kamuzu Barracks from MDF’s 2MR Unit and Silver Strikers, who will squared it uptomorrow at Civo Stadium in Lilongwe’s Area 9.

Looking at the current form of all the four teams involved, both promise to be nerve-wrecking affairs, which local bookmakers would only predict at their own risk.

Wanderers, which will be the home team in this afternoon’s encounter goes onto the tough beaming with confidence, having not lost a single match in their last three cup campaigns.

They won last year’s edition of the Carlsberg Cup after beating Silver Strikers in the final before winning the inaugural edition of the FISD Challenge Cup at the expense of Kamuzu Barracks. The Nomads also had a good run in their two-legged Airtel Top 8 quarterfinal assignment against Azam Tigers, whom they trounced 2-0 during the first leg at Balaka Stadium before settling for a one-all draw in the second leg at Kalulu Stadium.

Apart from their impressive record in cup competitions, the Nomads boast of the most expensive and talented squad in the country but that’s not a guarantee of victory against the Soldiers of Kaning’ina.

Amongst the stars to watch in the Nomads’ squad include Flames and former Tigers attacker Yamikani Chester, who can take on defenders with ease. Rejuvenated striker Jabulani Linje is another player the soldiers will have to keep a close watch in the camp of the Nomads, who might also recall the likes of Peter Wadabwa, Amos Bellow and Ishmael Thindwa.

Three missed the start of the season and the Top 8 quarterfinal leg due to injuries but should be fit for the semi-finals.

Going into the Lions’ den, free-scoring striker Kuda Muyaba, who played a crucial role in the destruction of Mafco during the all-soldiers quarterfinal will be the man to watch.

Moyale were one of the two most impressive sides during the quarterfinal leg, scoring as many as six goals and conceding two- a record only matched by their fellow soldiers Kamuzu Barracks.

The Kaning’ina Lions started their Top 8 campaign with a 2-0 whipping of Mafco at the Soccer Instructors’ own backyard- Chitowe Stadium before finishing the operation with a 4-2 victory over the Salima-based soldiers during the return leg in Mzuzu.

They will not be push-over against the Nomads, whom they eliminated at the same stage of the Presidential Cup last year before bowing down to Nyasa Big Bullets on penalty-shootouts during the final.

From the newly built state-of-the-art stadium, the focus will shift to Area 9 tomorrow as Silver Strikers and Kamuzu Barracks engage in a grudge battle at Civo.

Memories are still fresh in the minds of Silver fans on how KB eliminated the Central Bankers in the FISD Cup semi-finals last year before whipping them in the league within just a week.

Coupled with their morale-boosting quarterfinal victory over sleeping giants Bullets, last year’s memories will be the major driving force for the Bankers against an equally tough side from the army headquarters.

The Bankers cruised to the semi-final after edging Bullets 1-0 on aggregate during the two legged quarterfinals while KB overwhelmed Blue Eagles with a 6-2 win on aggregate, having won the first leg 4-2 before bombarding the cops 2-0 during the second leg at Nankhaka Ground.    

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