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Match preview: Bullets vs Silver | Castel Challenge Cup final

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All roads lead to Bingu National Stadium on Saturday afternoon for the 2023 Castel Challenge Cup final.

FCB Nyasa Big Bullets will be going for a third trophy this season when Kalisto Pasuwa’s men face Silver Strikers at the Bingu National Stadium.

The People’s Team already have the FDH Bank Cup and the TNM Super League in the cabinet and eye the remaining Castel Challenge Cup and the Airtel Top 8 as Bullets will take on MAFCO in the final match of the campaign on 6 January.

Form Guide

Pasuwa’s men are a step away from glory in the Castel Challenge Cup after going past Ekwendeni Hammers with a 4-0 win in the quarter-finals, before beating rivals Mighty Mukuru Wanderers 4-2 on penalties following a 1-1 stalemate in the regulation time.

Before these two results, Bullets eliminated Lipulumundu FC 2-0 in the round of 64 then went on to record a 4-2 victory over Soche Socials in the round of 32.

In the last 16, the Malawi champions convincingly hammered Civil Service United 3-0 to proceed to the last eight where Hammers got hammered before the Blantyre derby victory to set up a showdown against the Bankers.

Our opponents on Saturday were one of the two teams from the Central Region to have been seeded and this prevented them from starting the campaign from the round of 64 stage.

They beat the lower division side St. Gabriel Zitha 5-0 to reach the next round where they thumped Northern region side Ekwendeni United 7-1 to advance to the last eight and defeated Blue Eagles 4-2 to set up a semifinal showdown against Bangwe All Stars in Blantyre where they won 2-0 to reach the final.

Pieter De Jhong’s men go into this contest straight from a 3-1 penalty shootout loss to Mafco in the semi-finals of the Airtel Top 8 following a 1-1 draw in normal time.

Head-to-Head

Bullets and Silver Strikers will be meeting in a cup final for the second time in three years.

The last cup final between the two sides was in 2021 when Bullets beat the Central Bankers 5-4 on penalties to win the Airtel Top 8.

Pasuwa’s charges have had two straight cup wins over Saturday’s opposition, both in the Airtel Top 8. The first in the 2021 edition and then last season when Bullets recorded a 3-1 win to boot the Area 47 side out of the competition in the semi-final phase.

Before the two back-to-back victories, Silver has had four successful ties in cup games against Bullets.

We lost to the Lilongwe side in the then FISD Challenge Cup in 2016 and 2019 as they also eliminated us from the Airtel Top 8 in 2017 and the FDH Bank Cup in 2021.

But in the TNM Super League, since 2019, Bullets have had seven wins against Silver’s three.

Team News

Captain Precious Sambani, Alick Lungu, Rabson Chiyenda and Frank Willard, who have been on the sidelines for several weeks, are all out of this match due to injuries.

What Pasuwa said

“It’s a tough game for us. You know the tempo that you use when you are playing these high-profile games. You need to put everything [into it] for one to win the game. It doesn’t matter physically, mentally, you need to have everything in order to come out with a result.

That’s one game that has everything in it, and as Bullets, we need to step up and get the result.

As Bullets, there is no team that plays a match so we can easily win. All the teams give us a torrid time. I always give an example of Lipulumundu, a non-league side that gave us a tough run when we faced them [in the opening round of the campaign]. It needs us to adjust to win against the best teams in the land.

We have been telling these players that they set a precedent to win games and be where we are. We need to be careful with Silver because they have been playing very good, we respect them as much as they respect us. Whoever plays better [on Saturday] will carry the day.”

How to follow the game

The Castel Challenge Cup final on Saturday 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

Referee: Gift Chicco

Assistant Referee 1: Bernadettar Kwimbira

Assistant Referee 2: Clemence Kanduku

Fourth Official: Mercy Kayira

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