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Preview: Bullets vs Red Lions

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TNM Super League football is back for Nyasa Big Bullets with a midweek home assignment against Red Lions at the Kamuzu Stadium this afternoon.

Bullets make a return to the Soccer Mecca after being away for three weekends, facing Simba SC in Lilongwe and Dar es Salaam in the CAF Champions League and Mighty Mukuru Wanderers at the Bingu National Stadium in the FDH Bank Cup semifinal last Saturday.

The last TNM Super League action for Kalisto Pasuwa’s men was exactly 30 days ago when they humiliated TN Stars 8-0 at the Kamuzu Stadium.

Bullets will look to maintain the unbeaten run this season and possibly widen the gap at the top of the standings further as they eye a fourth successive league title.

Form Guide

The People’s Team head into this match straight from their emphatic 4-0 win over Wanderers to secure a place in the FHD Bank Cup final, bouncing back from the disappointing back-to-back defeats to Simba in the Champions League.

Saturday’s result in the Blantyre derby has stretched Bullets’ unbeaten run in the domestic competitions to 24 games in the 2022 campaign and will have an opportunity to extend that track to 21 matches before playing Civil Service United on Sunday and Sable Farming in another midweek fixture next week.

Winning these next three games will set Pasuwa’s side a foot away from defending the league title and might as well wrap up their successful campaign on 16 October when they host third-placed Blue Eagles.

However, Bullets will be worried about their visitors’ giant-killing feats whenever they play them at Kamuzu Stadium.

Last season, The People’s Team had to come from behind to draw 3-3 after they were 3-1 down at halftime despite taking an early lead through Hassan Kajoke’s strike in the seventh minute.

This was their second time forcing Bullets to a frustrating draw after they did the same in 2016 to end the game at 3-3.

But they are facing a side which has had mixed results in the ongoing season.

The Zomba-based soldiers started the campaign on a very high note, beating Silver Strikers in the opening week of the campaign, before getting the better of Mafco FC.

However, their perfect start to the season was halted by endless defeats and draws which eventually forced their management to make some changes in the technical panel. Still more, the team kept on struggling and they are sitting just seven points above safety with two more games played over the 14th placed Sable Farming, who, if they win the two games, will reduce the gap to just a point.

Red Lions are coming into this game straight from yet another 2-0 defeat at the hands of Blue Eagles at Nankhaka on Sunday.

Head-to-Head

In the brief history between these two sides, it has always been Bullets dominating throughout the past decade.

In 2018, Bullets hammered Red Lions 3-0 at Balaka Stadium to condemn them to their first relegation from the top flight league.

Last season, Bullets got four out of the possible six points over the Malawi Defense Force side and in the ongoing season, Bullets won 2-0 at Balaka Stadium courtesy of first-half strikes from Babatunde Adepoju and Chimwemwe Idana.

They meet again on Wednesday where victory is a must for Bullets to cement their top position whilst the Reds will be looking to bounce back so that they run away from the drop zone to avoid a repeat of what happened to them in the 2018 season.

Team News

Bullets will welcome back the trio of Alick Lungu, Righteous Banda and Lanjesi Nkhoma, who missed Saturday’s trip to Lilongwe due to illnesses.

But Pasuwa’s side will be without captain John Lanjesi, who was stretchered off the pitch on Saturday after picking up a knock during the Blantyre derby.

The People’s Team will also be without defender Hadji Wali.

For Red Lions, the trip to Kamuzu Stadium could be yet another outing without defending midfielder Khumbo Banda whose whereabouts are still not known after he handed in a transfer request to Dedza Dynamos only for the two clubs to fail to agree on his transfer fee and since then, he hasn’t been reporting for work.

Players to watch

Chimwemwe Idana (Bullets): Possessing experience and tenacity, Idana has been one of the more consistent performers whenever he has taken to the field, with his never-say-die attitude often proving to be a thorn in the flesh of the opposition. The midfielder not only adds numbers to Bullets attack but does not shriek from his duties of covering the midfield well and moving into offensive zones to create spaces for fellow attackers, all of which makes him an asset on either half of the field.

Royal Bokosi (Red Lions): The forward is and has always been Red Lions’ most dangerous man on the field and he has a good scoring record over Bullets. Last season, he scored his first hat-trick for his team during the 3-3 draw at Kamuzu Stadium.

He is good in the air, has pace and can advance into spaces if left unmarked. He is one to watch throughout the match.

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