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Match preview: Bullets vs Silver Strikers

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Bullets return to Kamuzu Stadium for our final TNM Super League fixture of the 2023 season as we host Silver Strikers on Sunday afternoon.

We started our campaign away from home in April this year against Sunday’s opponents and eight months down the line, the journey has to come to an end against the opposition that we kickstarted the season with.

It’s a blockbuster match involving two top teams who have fought hard for the championship throughout the season, but at the end of the day, only one team will be crowned in front of thousands of fans.

Bullets are favourites to retain the title after their hard-fought 1-0 victory away to Karonga United last Wednesday, but Peiter De Jhong, whose team needs to win by a 4-0 margin to snatch the championship from the home side, has vowed to keep on fighting until the final whistle, saying anything is possible in the game of football.

Current Form

The defending champions had a tough period as they only earned three points from the possible 12 in the last four league games. But they made amends with a hard-fought 3-2 victory over Blue Eagles in the Airtel Top 8 semifinals at Bingu National Stadium last Sunday.

Bullets proceeded to the North to face Karonga United in a must-win clash for them to fend off the pressure that was coming from the Central Bankers in the title race.

Kalisto Pasuwa’s charges delivered when it mattered most as an early strike from Patrick Mwaungulu won the defending champions all the points to open up a three-point lead at the top of the standings over the Lilongwe-based side going into the final match.

As for De Jhong’s charges, their narrow 2-1 win over Kamuzu Barracks brought them back into the title contention on the same day that Bullets lost 1-0 to Dedza Dynamos on 23 November.

The Bankers had their hopes on Karonga United to defeat Bullets. However, the result went against them as Pasuwa’s men walked out of Karonga smiling.

Head-Head

In the last 19 meetings between the two teams, Bullets have won eight times while Silver have recorded three wins against The People’s Team in the league since 2013.

The last victory for Bullets saw them hammering their opposition 3-1 at Kamuzu Stadium, with all the goals coming in the opening 23 minutes of the match.

Last season, Bullets collected four points from the possible six on Silver, beating them 3-1 at Kamuzu Stadium in the first round before forcing them to a 2-2 draw at Bingu National Stadium in the reverse fixture.

In the 2020/21 season, the two teams shared three points each as the Central Bankers scored late through Maxwell Gasten to claim a 1-0 victory at Silver Stadium, before losing the reverse fixture at Kamuzu Stadium courtesy of second-half strikes from Chimwemwe Idana and Precious Phiri.

In the 2019 season, Bullets claimed a double over their rivals with 3-1 and 1-0 wins in the opening and final rounds of the campaign.

The two sides then shared one point apiece in 2018 when the first-round and second-round matches ended 1-1 and 0-0, respectively.

But in 2017, Silver Strikers got the better of Bullets when they forced them to a 1-1 draw at Kamuzu Stadium before claiming a 2-1 win in the second round at Silver Stadium

Bullets then collected four out of a possible six points over the Area 47 side when they drew 1-1 in Lilongwe before beating them 2-1 at Kamuzu Stadium in the reverse fixture in the 2016 season.

2015 saw Bullets claiming two wins over the Reserve Bank of Malawi-sponsored team, beating them 2-0 at Kamuzu Stadium and 2-1 at Silver Stadium.

The last meeting between the two opponents in the league at BNS saw the Bankers coming from behind to draw 1-1. Bullets had an early lead courtesy of Lanjesi Nkhoma, which was cancelled out by defender Nickson Mwase, who is not playing on Sunday afternoon due to a suspension.

Team News

Pasuwa will be without Alick Lungu who has a swollen knee. Frank Willard and Rabson Chiyenda are also out due to injuries while Blessings Mpokera, who was suspended for the previous match, is back in contention for a place in his first XI.

What Pasuwa said ahead of the match

“The boys know how far they have come from. How it was difficult for them to get where they are today, and I think, to the majority of the players, they have been waiting for this game. In terms of motivation, it’s up to the players now to raise their heads and go up and finish off the race.

It has been very difficult for us to get where we are today. We have been travelling a lot and I think we last played at Kamuzu Stadium three weeks ago, and coming back to our home ground we need to tell people that we are back and we need to make our supporters enjoy the match.

It’s going to be very interesting facing a team that is eager to overturn the tables, a team that has chased us throughout the season and yes, they still have the confidence. We are going to the final race of it and we will see how it goes after 90 minutes.

They [Silver Strikers] don’t sit back, are very offensive, and they are coming to our venue. We need to be very aware of how we will fare in duels and how we fare in trying to win possession. We don’t need to let them play. We don’t need to let them have possession than us. That’s where one team can get goals. I have advised the boys to go out there and see how best they can tame them in terms of attack so that we get the best out of this game

I am proud of my players. They have been fantastic in every game they have played. They have been fighting. If we remember the situation that we have been in, I would applaud my players for the job well done. It’s not easy to play five to six games within 12 days. It’s very difficult.

And also considering the type of pitches that we have in Malawi, these frequent travels, more than 900 kilometres away from home. I think we had so many trips that we have travelled with the players, but they never bowed down. People might be talking about results, but the situation that we were in was very difficult for one to get results.”

How to follow the game

Our final match of the 2023 TNM Super League season will kick off at 14h30 and you can catch the action on Mpira TV and FIFA+. Alternatively, you can follow the match updates on our Facebook and Twitter channels.

Match officials

Referee: Gift Chicco

Assistant Referee 1: Joseph Nyauti

Assistant Referee 2: Mark Thunyani

Fourth Official: Mwayi Msungama

Match Assessor: Moffat Champiti

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