Match Preview: Civil Sporting vs Nyasa Big Bullets

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Nyasa Big Bullets will look to strengthen their position at the top of the 2020/21 TNM Super League standings when they visit Civil Sporting Club at Civo Stadium this afternoon.

The defending champions have a two point-lead over second-placed Silver Strikers with 42 points from 20 games, though they have played a game more than the Bankers, who are away up North facing Chitipa United this afternoon and Karonga tomorrow.

But on Saturday, Bullets’ title defense will face a stern challenge when they visit a side which has also been very outstanding in the ongoing season.

The People’s Team, who rose to the top of the league on Wednesday following their 3-0 victory over Ntopwa FC, will have to do whatever it takes to maintain the lead as the league has now reached a boiling point.

On the road, it has been a very difficult journey for Kalisto Pasuwa’s side in Lilongwe this season, collecting four points out of a possible nine. Bullets drew 0-0 against MAFCO before losing 1-0 to Silver Strikers, but made amends with a 1-0 victory over Blue Eagles.

In the first round, Bullets ended Civil Sporting Club’s unbeaten league run, coming from behind to register 2-1 victory at Kamuzu Stadium and extended their winning streak over the Lilongwe based side to eleven matches in five seasons.

However, this afternoon’s showdown will not be determined by previous records, but rather the ability to convert chances into goals.

Pasuwa was this week quick to admit that he is concerned with his team’s failure to convert plenty of chances created into goals, saying the only way for his side to defend the title is to improve on their finishing.

But despite this, it is still Bullets that lead when it comes to goals scored as they have 37 against Silver’s 35 followed by Ekwendeni Hammers with 28 goals scored so far.

There might even be extra motivation for striker Hassan Kajoke to find the back of the net on Saturday,  as he is two goals away from matching the current leading scorer Maxwell Gasten of Silver Strikers, who has 12 goals to his name.

It has been quite a season for Kajoke who has been missing alot of chances but on Wednesday, he scored his first ever hat-trick for The People’s Team to take his tally to 10 and to remind everyone that he is still the same player who inspired Bullets to the title last season with his 17 goals in his debut season coming from the reserve side.

The most memorable visit to Lilongwe for Bullets was in the 2019 season where the 14-time league champions scored with two minutes to play against Civil to cement their position at the top in which they ended up defending their title.

FORM GUIDE

The two teams have had a mixed start to the season. Bullets struggled to settle down in the first-round as they found themselves in a very unfamiliar position, but it was Civil Sporting who had started the season on a high.

The Civil Servants had won several of their opening matches and were the only unbeaten side before losing to Bullets in that 2-1 victory.

Since then Bullets have registered five wins and a draw whilst Civil have only registered one win, two defeats and three draws, dropping to sixth position with 30 points from 19 games.

TEAM NEWS

Experienced central defender Sankhani Mkandawire is back in the Matchday squad after missing Wednesday’s fixture through suspension.

Bullets will still be without several of their key players, but are likely to welcome back Gomezgani Chirwa and Yamikani Fodya, who got injured during a win over Mighty Tigers FC a fortnight ago and had been on the sidelines before joining the team to Lilongwe.

Chiukepo Msowoya is also not part of the team as he is still recovering from a hamstring injury he also picked against Tigers, while Meshack Seleman also joined the list of injuries after limping off on Wednesday afternoon during the midweek fixture against Ntopwa.

Left-back Precious Sambani and the duo of Aziz Mwakifuna and Righteous Banda remain sidelined as they are still nursing long-term injuries, while goalkeeper Ernest Kakhobwe and defender Pilirani Zonda are also not fit to play after returning from injuries.

Youngster Lanjesi Nkhoma, who was on the bench against Ntopwa could not make it to the Capital due to illness.

PREVIOUS ENCOUNTERS 

2014 Season

Civil Sporting Club 1-3 Nyasa Big Bullets

Nyasa Big Bullets 2-0 Civil Sporting Club

2015 Season

Civil Sporting Club 1-3 Nyasa Big Bullets

Nyasa Big Bullets 2-1 Civil Sporting Club

2016 Season

Nyasa Big Bullets 1-0 Civil Sporting Club

Civil Sporting Club 0-2 Nyasa Big Bullets

2018 Season

Civil Sporting Club 1-2 Nyasa Big Bullets

Nyasa Big Bullets 2-1 Civil Sporting Club

2019 Season

Nyasa Big Bullets 6-0 Civil Sporting Club

Civil Sporting Club 0-1 Nyasa Big Bullets

2020/21 season 

Nyasa Big Bullets 2-1 Civil Sporting

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