FCB Nyasa Big Bullets have another challenge as the fifth TNM Super League fixture of this campaign awaits the defending champions against newly-promoted Bangwe All Stars at Mpira Stadium on Friday.
Bullets travel to Chiwembe 24 hours earlier than originally arranged after the match date was rescheduled due to the team’s impending engagement in the Kamuzu Day commemorations in Lilongwe on Sunday.
Friday’s tie will be the first one in history between our first team and Mabvuto Lungu’s side, which was promoted to the country’s first tier due to the ineligibility of our reserves to play in the Super League. Bangwe earned promotion after finishing second in the Premier Division last season.
But how have our opponents performed in the top-flight league since earning promotion to the elite league? Read on as we take a look at their journey so far.
Lungu’s charges are one of the unbeaten teams in the league so far. They have played four games, winning once and drawing three.
They started their Super League journey with an away fixture against Dedza Dynamos in the first week.
Bangwe, coached by a former Bullets player and tutor, almost got away with a win when they took a lead midway into the second half through Chikumbutso Salima, who is on a season-long loan from The People’s Team.
Their next assignment was against Mighty Tigers at the Mpira Stadium the two Blantyre teams played to a goalless draw before they shared the spoils with last season’s runners-up Blue Eagles after giving away a 1-0 lead to draw 1-1 at Mulanje Park where Salima was on target again.
Next on their schedule was Karonga United up North as the rookies continued hunting for their first win, which they earned following a 2-1 victory over the home team, courtesy of a strike each from Michael Tetteh and Innocent Msowoya.
The win saw Bangwe move from 12th to 4th position with six points. They have scored four goals and conceded three.
Bangwe’s form at home
They have so far played once at Mpira Stadium and were held to a goalless draw by Tigers.
Their key players
Our opponents will be without five players who are on loan from Bullets. Goalkeeper Rahaman John, right-back Yamikani Mologeni, midfielders Chimwemwe Yasin and Salima as well as forward Emmanuel Saviel cannot play against their mother club.
It will be a major setback for Lungu, who has a leading scorer in Salima, who has two goals and has already received two Man of the Match accolades featuring for Bangwe in the TNM Super League.
However, they have Tetteh who enjoys scoring against us. The Ghanaian started tormenting us at Silver Strikers, and he continued his fine form when he moved to Ekwendeni Hammers and Sable Farming before he joined Bangwe at the start of the season.
In the last three matches against us, he has two goals to his name, and he is likely to be the centre of focus on Friday.
In the absence of the loanees, Bangwe All Stars will also rely on the services of Msowoya, who has been a marvel since moving to the team from the relegated Sable Farming.
The former Bullets Reserves defending midfielder’s 30-metre drive was the highlight of the day when they beat Karonga United on Sunday and it was not a surprise to see him earning the Man of the Match award away from home.
Facing Kalisto Pasuwa’s men this Friday, Msowoya is expected to level up playing against his former teammates who earned a promotion to our first team at the same time he was released and joined Sable last season.
Bangwe All Stars play a passing game, building from the back and attacking from transitions. They mostly use their quick wingers, Salima and Saviel, who will not be involved against us. Lungu however has Robert Saizi, who is also gifted with pace and the ability to attack between spaces.
They will also use the experience of former Bullets skipper Chimango Kayira.
The veteran, who guided Bullets to the 2019 championship success, is expected to be instrumental for the newcomers, who are currently in the Top 4 and will be looking to upset the log leaders to send a statement of intent to the remaining teams.
How have we faired against newly-promoted teams?
In the last five seasons, Bullets only dropped points to newcomers Chitipa United and Mlatho Mponela in the 2019 season.
In that campaign, Bullets were forced to a 2-all draw by Chitipa in the first round and a goalless draw away to Mlatho Mponela in the second round.
Pasuwa’s men went on to win the league with 70 points, a point above cross-town rivals Mighty Mukuru Wanderers.
Last season, Bullets collected maximum points over Sable Farming, Dedza Dynamos and Rumphi United.
They beat Sable 1-0 in the first round before completing a double with a comfortable 5-1 win in the reverse fixture. We defeated Rumphi United 4-1 at Kamuzu Stadium before recording a 3-1 win away in Rumphi Stadium in the second round.
Pasuwa’s charges collected full points with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Dedza Dynamos away at Balaka Stadium before collecting another three points following a 2-1 win at Kamuzu Stadium.
Friday’s encounter should be one of the games to watch this season as The People’s Team also enjoys a good following from the South-Eastern part of Blantyre where Bangwe All Stars are based and coached by a Bullets legend with a squad comprising former Maule players among them goalkeepers Ernest Kakhobwe and Elias Missi as well as defender Hadji Wali.