FCB Nyasa Big Bullets host TP Mazembe in the CAF Champions League second preliminary round first leg at Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe this afternoon.
This fixture marks Bullets’ campaign in the second qualifying round where the winner in the two-legged affair will proceed to the group stages of Africa’s biggest club competition.
The People’s Team will be going into this match looking for a positive result as Kalisto Pasuwa’s men eye the next phase having last reached the group stages of the competition in 2015.
Domestic action is on hold for Bullets, who last got involved a fortnight ago against Civil Service United in which Pasuwa’s charges had to stage a stunning comeback to beat the Lilongwe-based side 3-2 in a match where at some point, the defending champions were 2-0 down in the first 25 minutes of the encounter.
Two weeks after the memorable win, they will be facing off against the Democratic Republic of Congo champions who have won their domestic league 19 times and the CAF Champions League five times in 25 appearances.
TP Mazembe has so far played three league matches this campaign, collecting nine points, scoring eight goals and conceding none.
The Ravens opened their 2023/24 league campaign with a 1-0 away victory to FC Simba on 23 August, with Fily Traore scoring their lone goal as they collected their first three points.
Next was a home assignment against Groupe Bazano a week later and Mihayo Kazembe’s men hammered the visitors 4-0, courtesy of strikes from Joel Beya, Magloire Ntambwe, Boubacar Ha Enikoye and Kevin Mondeko.
The Congolese champions then travelled to Lubumbashi Sport for their third and most recent match before their trip to Lilongwe and they maintained their perfect start to the season with another comfortable 3-0 win through a brace from Beya and a lone strike from Ntambwe.
This will be the first-ever meeting between Bullets and Mazembe. Our opponents have a rich history in continental competitions, having won five CAF Champions League titles, three CAF Super Cup titles, one Confederations Cup title and one CAF Cup title.
Pasuwa will be without Blessings Mpokera, Maxwell Phodo and Peter Banda due to injuries.
Mpokera suffered an ankle injury, Phodo has a groin injury whilst Banda has a thigh problem.
Yamikani Fodya is also out of this tie following his straight red card against Dragon FC in the second leg of the first preliminary round. This will be his second suspension in the continental showpiece after he was also sent off in Bullets’ 1-0 away win over AmaZulu FC in the 2020/21 edition.
But Precious Sambani, Hassan Kajoke and Patrick Mwaungulu have all recovered from their injuries and are in contention for a place in the starting eleven this Sunday afternoon.
What Pasuwa said ahead of the tie
“We have been talking to the boys, trying to psych them up for them to get into the groove and I am very sure that they are highly motivated to do the job for us and give Mazembe a tough run for their money,” he said during the pre-match press conference on Saturday.
Precious Sambani ahead of the match
The vice-captain told the press: “As players we are ready and the spirits in camp are high. It is our wish to win the game and that’s what we have been discussing as players to walk out of Bingu National Stadium with a win. We are eager to deliver and sail through to the next round but it will all begin on Sunday and see how it goes when we travel to Lumumbashi.”
How to follow the game
Our match against TP Mazembe at the Bingu National Stadium will be officiated by Djiboutian referees, with the fourth official coming from Uganda and the match commissioner from Seychelles.
Referee: Mohamed Diraneh Diraneh Guedi (Djibouti)
Assistant Referee 1: Liban Abdourazak Ahmed (Djibouti)
Assistant Referee 2: Charmake Muhamed Abdillah (Djibouti)
Fourth Official: Mashood Ssali (Uganda)
Match Commissioner: Lewis Blaze Madeleine (Seychelles)