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ThumbsUp Final Preview: Bangwe vs Bullets Reserves

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Nyasa Big Bullets Reserves are set to bump heads against Bangwe All Stars in the ThumbsUp Southern Region Football League final at the Kamuzu Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

It is the very last match of the season for the young Bullets and one they ought to win to complete the title defence.

The two finalists have had quite an exceptional campaign and their slots in this year’s league finale have been well-earned.

Bangwe drew six times, won 13 times, and registered only a single defeat to win Group 1 with 45 points before cruising through the knockout stages.

On the other hand, our youngsters drew once, won on 17 occasions, and tasted defeat twice to get into the knockout stages as winners of Group 2.

To reach the final, the defending champions outclassed Fomo FC 4-0 on aggregate while Bangwe All Stars won 5-3 on aggregate against MDF Marine.

Going into the final, Enos Chatama’s boys, who have already brought a treble into their trophy cabinet, are well aware that a win on Saturday will see them complete a quadruple this season.

They will also be aware of their likelihood to insert their name into the history books for being the first team to win and defend all the pieces of silverware in the Malawi Premier Division.

Recognized for their heavy metal pressing football, Bangwe are expected to put up a fierce performance this afternoon, hoping to become the first Premier Division side to defeat Bullets Reserves in a final since 2017.

The last time the Bangwe’s mentor Mabvuto Lungu won a competitive match against Chatama was back in 2016 when his Nchalo United beat the then newly-reformed Bullets Reserves 2-0 in the Carlsberg Cup.

Since that time Chatama has won several meetings in big stages of competitions against the Bullets legend’s sides. The pursuit of revenge and undisputable reputation will probably make the two finalists give no quarter to each other.

The last time the two sides met was in the Powerstart Cup last season. Although Bangwe produced a dominant performance in that scuffle, they were sunk by Wongani Kaponya’s solo strike.

It is still against the rules and regulations of the FA for a football club to have its two sides competing in the same elite TNM Super League.

Any result will see Bangwe earning promotion into the Super League as Bullets Reserves can not play in the first tier as our first team already have a slot.

Over the past five seasons, except for the 2021 campaign won by Red Lions, our youngsters have been the champions in the second tier, but it has always been the runners-up to them who have been proceeding to the Super League of Malawi.

While the two sides will fight it out for the championship trophy, the duo of our stars, Emmanuel Saviel and Chikumbutso Salima will be hoping to strike more goals against Bangwe and win the ThumbsUp SRFL Golden Boot award. Salima has scored 19 times in 19 matches and is only second to Saviel, who has 23 strikes in 18 appearances.

Team news

Coach Enos Chatama will head into the final with a depleted squad as Usseni Assani and Wongani Kaponya are still sidelined due to injuries. However, Chatama will be pleased by the return of winger Crispin Mapemba to the training ground after shaking off a calf injury which kept him out for three weeks. But the question is whether the midfielder will pass the match-fitness test for him to feature this afternoon.

 What the managers said

Chatama: “It will be a game of high temper and a lot of emotions. We have beaten Bangwe for quite some time now and they will want to revenge on Saturday. [But] we are geared and ready for the game. It will be a tough game being the last of the season. Who wins it will become the champion of the Southern Region Football League, it won’t be an easy game.”

Lungu: “Saturday’s game is a very good one. Bullets Reserves are a good side, we respect them so much. They are the mainstays in this league. They have done so many things in this league. We, as Bangwe All Stars, have learnt a lot from them. Meeting them in the final is a different game altogether.

“We desire that we should win this game. They have beaten us twice, so we also want to make history that Bangwe has beaten Bullets Reserves. It will be a very good game, tactically and mentally, so I would urge people to come and watch a good game.”

Officiating Team

Center Referee: Mwayi Msungama

First Assistant Referee: Joseph Nyauti

Second Assistant Referee: Pondamali Tembo

The match will kick off at 14h30.

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