When Nyasa Big Bullets defied form book to defeat Be Forward Wanderers 1-0 at Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe on Sunday, the red side of town erupted, but in the larger context of the TNM Super League race, the result did Silver Strikers a big favour.
At least, for now.
In a league race, they say a team needs to do well against other favourites and ensure enough wins at home.
In the domestic league’s history, only Bullets (13 titles), Silver (eight), Wanderers (five), Azam Tigers (once) and Civil Sporting Club (once) have won the championship. However, this season, Tigers and Civil are not in the best of shapes.
Therefore, in as far as this campaign is concerned, it is worth gambling on Wanderers, Bullets and Silver. Of course, KB are in the distant picture.
In beating Wanderers, Bullets did their championship dream a big favour as, out of three championship contenders, the People’s Team has lost to one giant—2-1 to Silver and defeated the others, including holders Kamuzu Barracks (KB).
The record against the title hopefuls is even brighter for Silver. The Bankers have a clean slate against the championship aspirants having defeated Bullets and KB 2-0.
Going into the weekend roaster, the second-placed Silver have 23 points from 11 games, five points behind leaders Wanderers.
Bullets have 21 points from 12 games while lying fifth, one point behind third-positioned Moyale Barracks.
While Bullets’ win sent the Lali Lubani side into panic mode, it was the then on-bye Silver who must have worn the biggest smile.
A win in Lilongwe today for Silver against struggling Mzuni will take them to within two points of Wanderers.
But that is not the bigger story.
Wanderers beat KB 1-0 and have lost to Bullets, hence their survival on the driving seat hinges on their meeting with Silver.
A draw with the Bankers would preserve the two-point cushion for the Nomads who, in the first-round, also have to play against Moyale Barracks and Mzuni.
A loss for Wanderers to Silver will see the Bankers go top for the first time this season by a point. Matthew Sibale, Victor Limbani have been Silver’s form players of late.
Of course, they have the right balance in attack and defence. However, they can do better upfront when converting the chances.
Of course, Silver have to navigate their way past Civil Sporting Club and Red Lions, among others.
Civil have picked form dramatically rising into fourth position with 21 points from 13 games and ensure that relegation is no longer the vocabulary at Capital Hill.
The combination of Franco Ndawa and master tactician Oscar Kaunda seem to have done the trick with workhorse Joseph Kachule looking reborn in midfield alongside Patrick Thupi, thereby allowing the likes of Righteous Banda and Fletcher Bandawe to thrive upfront.
But so far, the scales are tipped in the favour of Silver, thanks to Bullets for opening the title race when Wanderers appeared to be running away with it.
It is still early days, the second-round might bring surprises but there is no doubt as to who are the title contenders.
The sliding down on the log table of early pace-setters Lions and Premier Bet Wizards show that nothing is done and dusted yet.
KB, hit by injuries of players such as Manase Chiyesa, are on 11th place on the log table, but Coach, Billy Phambala, remains optimistic of staging another late surprise show as was the case last year.
For this month, it might be the turn of Silver to dictate the pace and the race.