Nyasa Big Bullets will open the 2022 TNM Super League campaign with a home fixture on matchday 1 when they face Mighty Wanderers at Kamuzu Stadium on Saturday.
Head coach Kalisto Pasuwa, who has been preparing the team for almost six weeks before the start of the new season, has shared his thoughts on preparations and the squad he has assembled.
This pre-season, Pasuwa, who let go eleven of his players, most of them from the squad he adopted in 2018, and promoting six members from Bullets Reserves while recruiting two new faces, has taken his team to the playing field four times.
Ahead of the new season, The People’s Team faced newly-promoted Sable Farming in a friendly match and lost 2-1 at Mpira Stadium, before defeating Silver Strikers 1-0 to defend the Charity Shield at Kamuzu Stadium a week ago.
At the weekend, Bullets got out to building up match fitness as Pasuwa and his technical panel continued testing new combinations during the two-day Pamtsetse Bonanza at the Bingu National Stadium (BNS), where The People’s Team finished third behind Mighty Wanderers and Silver Strikers.
On Saturday Bullets lost 0-1 to Silver, before beating Civil Service United 2-0 on Sunday in the third place play-off, courtesy of Bullets Reserves midfield graduate Yankho Singo and Pasuwa’s last season signing Babatunde Adepoju’s strikes.
Speaking to journalists at the BNS during the four-team bonanza, Pasuwa said he was overall impressed with his team’s showing, believing his boys were ready for the new season.
He revealed he did not emphasize much on results because his focus was on fitness and performance of his ‘new-look’ squad.
“We are in pre-season and we were using these games to prepare for the new season and with what I have seen, I am very excited and I can confidently say I have 28 players who are fit and ready for the new season,” explained Pasuwa.
Despite drawing positives from the two games, Pasuwa was quick to admit that his team lacks aggressiveness in the central link, something which he thinks his players will be improving once the new season kicks off.
“And these games have been very important to us because [we have seen that] our team lacks aggressiveness in the central link and this is something which we can work on as we play our league matches.”
On day one of the bonanza Pasuwa made ten changes to the starting XI that beat Silver Strikers in the Charity Shield at Kamuzu Stadium, before making the same changes for Sunday’s team that defeated Civo.
The Zimbabwean has featured all 28 members of his youthful squad in the four pre-season matches played, among them captain John Lanjesi, left-back Precious Sambani and winger Righteous Banda, who have returned from long-term knee injuries.
On overall performance of youngsters that have joined the senior team, Pasuwa observes that the only thing lacking is fitness against physical teams, but is very confident that his boys will improve as Bullets go into the new season.
“So far so good from the youngsters, but another thing they are lacking is the physical aspect especially when playing some of these very physical teams, but I am very confident of getting there and they will be improving as the play games,” he said.
Bullets will resume training on Tuesday to start preparing for Saturday’s Blantyre derby in the TNM Super League opener at the Soccer Mecca.