It’s an all-Southern African affair as Malawi giants Nyasa Big Bullets host South Africa’s Amazulu FC in the second leg of the CAF Champions League first preliminary round at the Bingu National Stadium this afternoon.
The match, which will be beamed on both MBC TV and Mibawa Television, will kick-off at 15:00 p.m. and not 16:00 p.m. as earlier scheduled, behind closed doors.
Bullets have a one goal advantage over Usuthu following last week’s 0-1 victory against Ben McCarthy’s side at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.
The People’s Team continues to search for continental glory with a fifth appearance in the Champions League and will be facing a side that appears in the continental club competition for the first time in history.
Playing at home, a draw will see Kalisto Pasuwa’s men proceeding to the second phase of the preliminary round away in the Democratic Republic of Congo where TP Mazembe await.
Unlike their opponents, Bullets haven’t had a restful time. Not only have they been heavily involved in domestic league and cup action, they have also seen a host of their players called up for national team duty.
The TNM Super League champions will welcome back striker Hassan Kajoke, who missed the first leg due to an injury, whilst left-back Yamikani Fodya will miss the second encounter after picking a straight red card last week.
Forward Chiukepo Msowoya and Nigerian striker Babatunde Adepoju have been certified fully fit after recovering from knocks they picked in the first tie and the two are available for selection on Saturday.
Bullets, however, have one injury concern after attacking midfielder, Paul Kansungwi, has been ruled out following an ankle injury he suffered during training on Wednesday.
Bullets are the current leaders in Malawi’s elite league with 55 points from 26 games and had registered back-to-back victories before last week’s Champions League victory over AmaZulu.
On the other hand, Saturday’s opponents have had a very difficult start to the new season in South Africa and are 15th in the standings.
McCarthy’s side is winless in three matches, recording two draws and one defeat and are yet to score a goal this season.
HEAD COACH PRESS CONFERENCE
Pasuwa told members of the press in Lilongwe on Friday that his charges were ready to finish the job at home and book a place in the next round against TP Mazembe.
He said: “[We are] very well prepared for the game and everyone is read. [Of course] we had four players who had knocks, but we did late fitness tests on them and they are looking very good [and] ready for the second match.
“This is the second leg after playing them in South Africa last week and I have told the boys to do more in order for us to come with a result. When we played them at their backyard, we played counter attacking football especially in the first half before the red card, which saw them controlling ball possession, but this time around we are home and we need to counter them and create spaces so that we go forward and score,” he added.
Pasuwa is well aware that Bullets will have to be very cautious with how they approach the game, observing that AmaZulu will come flat out in order to find an early goal.
“We know for a reason they will come hard on us in the early minutes of the game in order to put the match on level and we need to manage it so that we can avoid a defeat at our backyard.
“It’s a system of avoiding a defeat. We attack in numbers and defend in numbers so that by the end of the game we progress to the next stage.”