It’s another installment of the biggest match in Malawi’s football with Mighty Wanderers visiting Nyasa Big Bullets for yet another testing encounter to mark the beginning of the 2022 TNM Super League season at Kamuzu Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The last time the two teams met in a thrill-a-minute affair in December last year in the Airtel Top 8 at the same venue where Bullets hammered their rivals 4-1.
But before this massive scoreline, it was Wanderers who ended Bullets’ eight-year unbeaten home run when the Lali Lubani boys claimed a 1-0 victory over The People’s Team.
Three months down the line, the battle for three points and bragging rights will intensify at the country’s oldest football pitch, the Soccer Mecca.
It will also be the first time in 17 years for the two teams to face each other on the opening day of the league.
In 2004/5 season, Bullets hammered their rivals 3-0 on the opening day and went on to win the championship, which they will be looking to defend for a fourth consecutive season this campaign.
The champions come into this encounter as the hot favourites based on how they have dominated the Blantyre derby the past nine years.
Despite having a new youthful team, Bullets are the masters of this oldest affair and Kalisto Pasuwa’s men will go flat out to send a strong warning to would-be fellow title contenders.
However, despite their good record over their rivals, history counts for nothing when it comes to the Blantyre derby as the Nomads showed resilience to end Bullets’ clean run at Kamuzu Stadium.
Pasuwa’s men will be going into Saturday’s fixture carrying two defeats and two wins in pre-season matches; losing to Sable Farming FC 2-1 in a friendly tie earlier this month, winning against Silver Strikers 1-0 in the NBS Bank Charity Shield before a 0-1 loss to the Central Bankers in the Pamtsetse Bonanza then defeating Civil Service United 0-2 in the same tournament in Lilongwe last weekend.
Pasuwa will be without goalkeeper Clever Mkungula, who limped off during the team’s Wednesday training session and the Nyasa Big Bullets Reserves graduate will likely miss a number of weeks in the new campaign.
But the tactician will welcome back Precious Sambani and John Lanjesi, who have been out for more than a year due to injuries. The left-back and central defender are available for selection for Saturday’s league opener as Pasuwa has picked a 23-member squad to face Wanderers.
Babatunde Adepoju (Bullets): The Nigerian loves big occasions and there is no bigger occasion than the Blantyre derby. The foward is a player who uses strength to torment his opponents and is also good in the air, having scored three of the four goals against Wanderers using his head.
The 26-year old is very clever at exploiting gaps and space left by defenses like he did in the cup games against Wanderers and Mafco FC, leading to Bullets’ victories in those three matches.
He is also a player that is key in the way Bullets play their quick transition. He overpowered his opponent to score Bullets’ second goal against Civil in the bonanza at the Bingu National Stadium on Sunday.
Chimwemwe Idana (Bullets): The team’s Vice Captain has been very influential for The People’s Team in two consecutive seasons.
In the 2020/21 season, Idana inspired Bullets to their 15th league title and was also named Player of the Season.
His ability to create spaces and unlock opponents’ defence is what would make every team not to cope with his intelligence whenever he is in possession of the ball. He will likely be very instrumental for Pasuwa’s men.
Vincent Nyangulu (Wanderers): The striker has had a good run over The People’s Team in recent matches. He was on the scoresheet when Wanderers ended Bullets’ eight-year unbeaten home run in the league last season, before he scored past Bullets again in the Airtel Top 8 despite his side losing 4-1.
The Nomads Number 9 is one of the most dangerous strikers in the domestic league and once left unmarked, the end result is fatal to the opposite side. Once again, he will be the key man for Eddington Ng’onamo’s team in the Blantyre derby.
Felix Zulu (Wanderers): He is a workaholic with his speed and ability to cover a wide area in the field of play. During the 1-0 victory over Bullets, he outsmarted the Chimwemwe Idana-led midfield and he closed down all attacking spaces for Bullets in the entire 90 minutes. Very quick on the ball, an eye for crucial passes and the ability to move forward with the ball on his feet makes him one of the best midfielders in the league.
Bullets go into this fixture as clear favourites and they will fancy their chances of getting a positive outcome, having dominated the Super League Blantyre derbies in recent years.
Since 2015, Bullets have registered four league wins over their rivals, who only registered a win last season.
How to follow Nyasa Big Bullets vs Mighty Wanderers
The match will kick off at 14:30 and you can catch up with the live action through updates on all Bullets socia media platforms. The game will also be live on MBC TV.