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Match preview: Bullets vs Civil | Castel Challenge Cup R16

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After a successful campaign in the just concluded 2023 TNM Super League, retaining the championship for the fifth consecutive season, FCB Nyasa Big Bullets continue the hunt for another silverware this term.

The People’s Team will welcome Civil Service United in the Castel Challenge Cup Round of 16 for another crucial fixture this term at Kamuzu Stadium on Saturday.

The match comes four days after we advanced to this stage of the competition with a comfortable 4-2 win over a non-league Soche Socials at the same venue on Tuesday.

Kalisto Pasuwa’s men will host the Servants after eliminating them from the Airtel Top 8 following a 3-2 aggregate victory. The People’s Team won the first leg tie 2-0 away at Civo Stadium on 11 October while the visitors recorded a 2-1 win in the return leg at Kamuzu Stadium on 28 October.

Facing a side that we haven’t beaten at Kamuzu Stadium in cup games for the last decade, Bullets need to be at their level best to overcome a highly motivated side that will come flat out to maintain their perfect cup run over the Malawi champions.

Abbas Makawa’s men are one of the two teams to have recorded cup wins over Bullets at Kamuzu Stadium in the last eight years. They eliminated us from the 2015 Standard Bank Cup in the semi-final phase, before their Lilongwe rivals, Silver Strikers, knocked us out of the defunct FISD Cup a year later.

Form Guide

Pasuwa’s charges are coming from a successful spell in which they defended the TNM Super League championship on the final day of the campaign after playing out to a 1-1 draw against Silver Strikers on Sunday to finish top of the table with 60 points, three above the Central Bankers.

48 hours later, Bullets, who are eyeing a quadruple this term, having already reached the final of the Airtel Top 8, proceeded to get the better of Soche Socials with a comfortable 4-2 win to advance to the Castel Challenge Cup last-16 phase.

Before these two results, The People’s Team beat Blue Eagles 3-2 to advance to the Airtel Top 8 final and went on to defeat Karonga United 1-0 in the TNM Super League, a result that drew Maule closer to their 17th league title and a fifth for Pasuwa after becoming the Bullets head coach in 2018.

Saturday’s opponents won the relegation battle on the final day with a hard-fought 1-0 vital triumph over third-placed Mighty Mukuru Wanderers to finish in the top eight with 37 points after 30 games.

In the Castel Challenge Cup, Civil eliminated Mgwirizano FC following a 5-0 victory in the round of 64 before hammering Ergo FC from Kasungu 9-1 in the round of 32 to reach this stage.

Head-to-Head

Since 2015, this will be the fourth meeting between Bullets and Civil in knock-out cup encounters.

We met in the semifinals of the then Standard Bank Cup at Kamuzu Stadium where a first-half spot-kick from James Chilapondwa was cancelled by a second-half quick brace from Raphael Phiri for Civil to win the tie 2-1 and they went on to win the cup after defeating Wanderers 1-0 through Nelson Kangunje’s lone strike.

In the current season, we battled out for a place in the last four of the Airtel Top 8 Cup. The first leg at Civo Stadium ended 2-0 in favour of Bullets with a strike in each half from Maxwell Phodo and Hassan Kajoke.

In the second leg, Civil came from behind to register a 2-1 triumph through Lloyd Aaron and Chifundo Ngapenga’s strikes after we had opened the scoring through Phodo’s effort in the opening minute.

Civil’s victory in Blantyre was not enough to secure a place in the semis as Bullets proceeded with a 3-2 aggregate.

Team News

Patrick Mwaungulu and Precious Phiri will have to face a late fitness test to be considered for selection on Saturday, while Alick Lungu, Rabson Chiyenda, Kesten Simbi and Clever Mkungula are out as they continue nursing injuries.

Chiyenda and Lungu returned to action last month but suffered setbacks that will keep them out of action for more weeks.

What Pasuwa said ahead of the tie

“These teams also [look for] wins but it will be our character that will make us carry the day. If we go into Saturday’s match with the mentality of saying ‘We are league champions’, we will end up kissing goodbye to this cup. We faced them in the Airtel Top 8 and they beat us right at our venue. They are a good side that enjoy playing at Kamuzu Stadium than their base and we all know about this. We need to improve on how we are going to face them. It’s the mindset that has been killing us.

If you analyzed our last cup game against Soche Socials, you could see that my players were undermining their opponents because they were a non-league side and we were made to sweat for the win. In football, any team can come and beat you as long as you undermine them. So, we are meeting a good team hence the need to be very much organized [for us] to carry the day.”

How to follow the game

Our Castel Challenge Cup round of 16 tie against Civil Service United will kick off at 14h30 and action will be live on Mpira TV. Alternatively, you can catch all the match updates on our Facebook and Twitter channels.

Match officials

Newton Nyirenda, who officiated our TNM Super League clash with Karonga United away in the North ten days ago, has been tasked as the centre referee as we face Civil in the Castel Challenge Cup on Saturday afternoon.

Referee: Newton Nyirenda

Assistant Referee 1: Clemence Kanduku

Assistant Referee 2: Steven Nyirenda

Fourth Official: Meluce Nyirongo

Referees’ Assessor: Michael Makoto

Match Commissioner: Patrick Chisale

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