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Match preview: Blue Eagles vs Bullets | Airtel Top 8

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FCB Nyasa Big Bullets turn their attention back to the Airtel Top 8 as we face Blue Eagles in the semi-final tie at Bingu National Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

It’s a tricky away assignment for The People’s Team who have endured a frustrating period in the TNM Super League where we have dropped nine points from the possible 12 to bring back Silver Strikers and Mighty Mukuru Wanderers into the title race.

Bullets will need to bounce back and Sunday’s match can be the turning point for Kalisto Pasuwa’s men to restore their pride.

However, Eagles will be a mountain to climb for Bullets, who lost to the Area 30-based side in the 2018 final of the Airtel Top 8 at the same venue.

The two sides will also be meeting two weeks after the TNM Super League battle that ended goalless at Nankhaka.

Form Guide 

The game is the fourth outing in three weeks for Pasuwa’s troops, currently involved in three domestic competitions in what has been a busy season for the Blantyre-based Malawi champions.

Bullets come off from their second league defeat this season as they lost 1-0 away to Dedza Dynamos on Thursday afternoon, which was preceded by three straight draws to Wanderers, Red Lions and Sunday’s opposition just before the international break.

The People’s Team had a successful run in October in which they registered six out of the seven matches across all the competitions.

But Pasuwa’s side struggled to match that consistency on the road, collecting three from the possible twelve points before the recent defeat to Dedza.

The last time Bullets recorded a victory was against non-league side Lipulumundu Stars in the Castel Challenge Cup round of 64 last month.

Having eased past Civil Service United in the Airtel Top 8 quarter-final two-legged affair, Bullets will be looking to overcome another Central Region outfit in the knockout competition.

On the other hand, Eagles are a difficult side to overpower especially when playing in their backyard.

The last time Eliah Kananji’s men won a trophy was in the 2019 season, and they will go into this match with their hopes high due to Bullets’ recent struggle on the domestic scene.

Our opposition will also hope to replicate their 1-0 feat in 2018 when they scored from the spot in the stoppage time to stop the Blantyre giants from winning their first Airtel Top 8 cup. Blue Eagles became the second team to win the trophy in its second edition.

In this campaign, Eagles progressed to the semis with a hard-fought 4-3 aggregate win over Moyale Barracks in the two-legged ties.

They go into this match straight from their TNM Super League goalless draw against us a fortnight ago.

Head-to-Head 

This will only be the third cup meeting between the two teams, with their recent encounter dating back to their first-ever Airtel Top 8 clash when Stewart Mbunge’s late strike secured the cup for the Eagles in the 2018 edition.

In 1990, they met in the final of the Chibuku Cup and Blue Eagles won 2-0.

Overall, in the past years, the league meeting between the two teams was mostly won by Bullets.

The People’s Team has had ten wins from which they scored 21 goals in 20 meetings since the 2013 season whilst Blue Eagles have three wins, with seven matches ending in draws.

Team News

Pasuwa will be without midfielder Ernest Petro, who is not available due to personal reasons while defenders Clyde Senaji and Gomezgani Chirwa are all available for selection, but Collins Okumu, who trained with the team during the final preparations on Saturday, is doubtful due to fitness levels.

What Pasuwa said ahead of the match

“It has been very hard for us recently as you saw that we have been dropping points in every game in the last four league matches.

But again, I even talked about it when we were starting this season to say the way we are playing games and the injuries that we are getting, it would be very difficult to last long, but we thank God that we have reached this far where the players have been playing with pain, that’s how football is all about, we need to play all the games that are coming.

We are trying to motivate the players to keep pushing and to encourage them to move on from our recent league loss [against Dedza Dynamos] because they were down. So, we have been talking to them to say that’s how one can be counted from a slumber to go up and work hard to try to fight back again. It’s a cup game that is coming and we will try to give the other guys who haven’t been playing to balance energy levels.

Cup games have a different approach because they are finished on the day. It’s a game in which you need to use players who are very cautious in attack and also in defence. We also need ball management, and we need to try as much as we can to have more concentration for us to get a result. Blue Eagles have many senior players on their side, very experienced players, so we need to be very careful with how we manage the game.”

How to follow the game

Our Sunday Airtel Top 8 semi-final clash with Blue Eagles will kick off at 14h30 and you can catch the action on Mpira TV and FIFA+. Alternatively, you can follow our match updates on our Facebook and Twitter channels.

Match officials

Referee: David Chinoko

Assistant Referee 1: Mabvuto Godoya

Assistant Referee 2: Lameck Phiri

Fourth Official: Edson Chagala

Match Assessor: Boswell Msango

Match Commissioner: Austin Ajawa

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