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Opponents watch: Ekwendeni vs Bullets

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FCB Nyasa Big Bullets arrived in Mzuzu on Thursday afternoon ahead of the two TNM Super League matches up North.

The People’s Team will play Ekwendeni Hammers on Saturday before winding up the Northern Region trip with a midweek fixture against Moyale Barracks on Tuesday. Both matches will be played at Rumphi Stadium.

Bullets are coming from a successful Central Region outing where they defended the FDH Bank Cup with a comfortable 3-0 hammering of Mafco FC on Sunday and went on to beat Civil Service United 2-0 in the Airtel Top 8 Cup quarterfinal first leg on Wednesday.

Now, Kalisto Pasuwa’s men switch their focus to Saturday’s tie against Ekwendeni, our 21st TNM Super League fixture of this campaign.

Ahead of the encounter, let’s look at how the opposition has fared in this season.

The Mzuzu-based side performed superbly in the first round of the league where, at some point in time, had a five-game winning streak that saw them climbing up to fifth position in the table.

However, they haven’t been able to maintain the first-round performance as they are now five points from the bottom three following back-to-back defeats.

In their last seven games, Hammers have only managed to collect four points from the possible 21 after they drew 1-1 with Mighty Tigers before beating Extreme FC 1-0.

But they lost 2-0 away to Mafco FC and recorded three straight 1-0 losses to Kamuzu Barracks, Bangwe All Stars and Chitipa United.

Their heaviest defeat was registered at Karonga when they got hammered 4-1 by Karonga United, before a 1-2 home loss to current log leaders, Mighty Mukuru Wanderers.

From the 25 matches Ekwendeni have played so far, they have scored 19 goals and conceded 28.

Hammers’ form against Bullets

Since earning promotion into the top-flight league from the Simso Northern Region Premier Division League, Hammers have never won any game against the defending champions.

The first meeting between the two teams was on 17 April 2021 and Bullets grabbed a late winner through Gomezgani Chirwa at Mzuzu Stadium. The match ended 1-0.

In the second encounter of the same season, played at Kamuzu Stadium, The People’s Team walked away with all the points after beating Saturday’s opponents 2-0 courtesy of a strike in each half from Hassan Kajoke and McFallen Mgwira.

A third meeting was again at Kamuzu Stadium in the opening round of the 2022 term and Bullets again got the better of Ekwendeni with a convincing 3-1 win through Mgwira, Babatunde Adepoju and Kajoke’s strikes, before claiming another victory with a 2-0 margin at Mzuzu Stadium in the second round through goals from Precious Sambani and Nickson Nyasulu.

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

Saturday’s encounter against Ekwendeni will be our first meeting at Rumphi Stadium following the closure of Mzuzu Stadium, where they play their home matches.

How Bullets have fared at Rumphi Stadium 

Despite this being the first meeting with Ekwendeni Hammers at Rumphi Stadium, it is a familiar venue for the defending champions who have had two games against Rumphi United and Chitipa United.

In the 2022 season, Bullets were 3-1 winners over the relegated Rumphi United in the TNM Super League before beating Chitipa United 2-0 in the FDH Bank Cup.

Ekwendeni’s dangerous players 

The signing of Mphatso Magaleta on loan from Bullets proved to be a game-changer as the attacking midfielder has contributed a lot of goals the team has scored this season.

He is probably their dangerous man on the field of play in terms of creating and scoring. However, as part of the loan agreement, the midfielder will not play any role when Hammers host Bullets on Saturday.

But they still have Wongani Zulu to watch. He is one of the best players in the current season. He has two goals to his name, but his overall contribution has been enormous for a side that battled relegation last season.

They also have Blessings Singini. He is one of the few box-to-box midfielders in the league. He is always very comfortable with the ball and his ability to initiate attacks gives them an advantage to advance into the most critical areas of the attacking zone.

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