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Opponents watch: Bullets vs Ekwendeni

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FCB Nyasa Big Bullets will welcome Ekwendeni Hammers for another midweek fixture in the Castel Challenge Cup quarter-finals at Kamuzu Stadium on Wednesday.

It’s the first meeting between the two teams in a cup competition, having met the Northern Region side six times in the TNM Super League.

Ahead of the tie, we look at Ekwendeni’s journey in this competition in its first year, how they have fared against the Malawi champions as well as their strengths and weaknesses.

They started their campaign with a 2-0 win over a Simso Northern Region Football League premier division side, Kadona Stars, at Rumphi Stadium in the round of 64.

From there, Ekwendeni faced Raiply FC, another premier division team, and recorded a 4-1 victory to reach the round of 16.

Their next assignment was against fellow TNM Super League outfit and a trip to Dedza Dynamos was their ultimate test.

Lackson Nyoni’s men defied all odds as they progressed to the quarter-finals following a 5-6 triumph on post-match penalties after their first-half lead was cancelled out by the hosts.

They have played two games at home, and one away from their base. Their visit to Kamuzu Stadium will be their second away match in the competition.

Hammers form against Bullets

Since earning promotion into the top-flight league, Hammers have never tasted victory against Kalisto Pasuwa’s men.

Our first meeting was in the 2020/21 season and The People’s Team recorded a narrow 1-0 over Ekwendeni through Gomezgani Chirwa’s late winner at Mzuzu Stadium.

The second encounter was at Kamuzu Stadium where Bullets walked away with all the points after a 2-0 triumph courtesy of a strike in each half from Hassan Kajoke and McFallen Mgwira.

Our third meeting in April 2022 saw us getting the better of the visitors with a convincing 3-1 win through Mgwira, Babatunde Adepoju and Kajoke in Blantyre, before claiming a double at Mzuzu Stadium with another 2-0 victory later in August that season, courtesy of Precious Sambani and Nickson Nyasulu’s strikes.

In the first round of the just-ended campaign, we thrashed the visitors 4-1 at Kamuzu Stadium through goals from Lanjesi Nkhoma, Kajoke, Patrick Mwaungulu and Anthony Mfune. They reduced the arrears through an own goal from Gomezgani Chirwa.

In the last meeting, the two teams shared the spoils after a 1-1 draw at Rumphi Stadium. Bullets had to come from behind to salvage a point through Lanjesi Nkhoma’s strike.

Their dangerous men

Wongani Zulu is one of their players to watch. He contributed greatly to their survival in the 2023 TNM Super League campaign. He has four goals to his name, but his overall contribution has been enormous for a side that battled relegation.

Blessings Singini is another player to watch. He is one of the few box-to-box midfielders on the domestic scene. He is always very comfortable with the ball, and his ability to initiate attacks gives them the advantage to advance into the most critical areas of the attacking zones.

Weaknesses 

They are one of the teams to have conceded more goals in the league. They let in 36 goals. Their goalkeeping is one of the weakest, and facing a high-pressing side that can score goals at will in their backyard can cause them more problems.

Ekwendeni’s back four has problems stopping pacey attackers and the more opponents press, the more they concede.

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