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Bullets’ 2023 pre-season round-up

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FCB Nyasa Big Bullets completed their final pre-season friendly matches on Sunday with a comfortable 5-1 victory over Red Lions at Kamuzu Stadium before the commencement of the 2023 season.

Mike Mkwate, Lanjesi Nkhoma and Anthony Mfune were on target in the first half before Righteous Banda came off the bench to complete the thrashing of the Zomba-based military side with a brace.

Let’s take a look at how The People’s Team performed in preparation for the upcoming season, which kicks off this Sunday with the curtain raiser, the NBS Bank Charity Shield match against Mighty Mukuru Wanderers at the Bingu National Stadium.

Bullets resumed training in the second week of February as the group got back together having last played Wanderers in the Airtel Top 8 Cup final on December 17 at the BNS, a game we lost 5-4 on penalties.

As Kalisto Pasuwa continued to put them through their paces, Bullets travelled to Mangochi for a week-long training camp where the players underwent high-intensity sessions.

The team returned to Blantyre to participate in the 2023 Pre-Season International Bonanza which had two Mozambican teams, UD Songo and Ferroviário de Nampula, as well as our rivals Wanderers.

The tournament, which was played on 3-5 April, saw Pasuwa finishing bottom of the table with two points, having played out two back-to-back goalless draws to Ferroviário and the Nomads, before losing 1-0 to the cup winners UD Songo.

Bullets’ Clyde Senaji, Maxwell Phodo and McFallen Mgwira warming up for Kamuzu Barracks in our 1-1 pre-season draw at Civo Stadium. Photo by Kimpho Loka/Bullets Media.

Bullets then travelled to Lilongwe for two friendly games against Kamuzu Barracks and the newly-promoted side, Extreme FC.

Only one fixture against KB was fulfilled as the game against Extreme was cancelled, due to a directive from the Malawi National Council of Sports to cancel all formal sporting activities to observe the 14-day mourning following the devastating Cyclone Freddy that claimed hundreds of lives and displaced thousands of households in the Southern part of Malawi.

The two sides shared the spoils following a 1-1 draw in a match played indoors at the Civo Stadium. Bullets scored through Banda, who has had a good pre-season, finding the back of the net thrice out of the six goals Bullets scored during these preparations.

And on Sunday, Pasuwa’s charges had an excellent afternoon as they dominated throughout the match to score five past the Lions of Zomba.

Blessings Mpokera in action during the pre-season match on Sunday at Kamuzu Stadium as Bullets beat Red Lions 5-1. Photo by Kimpho Loka/Bullets Media.

It was an impressive afternoon for Maule and the lads should have scored more than five goals if we were more clinical in front of goals, especially in the opening period.

Despite missing a lot of chances, Assistant Coach Peter Mponda, who was in charge in the absence of the Head Coach, was impressed with the performance of Bullets, who shot blanks in the opening games of the pre-season.

“So far, we are happy with the way things are going. We have seen progress from the first week of our pre-season to this day. We did well in terms of ball possession and ball recovery whenever we lost possession, so I would say so far, so good,” he said in a post-match interview on Sunday.

Added Mponda: “It wasn’t only about the goals but team shape in terms of possession, recovery and movements. Yes, the scoreline is encouraging considering that we had played several games without scoring goals, but we did well today by taking our chances. We should have had more goals but this is part of preparing for the new season and I am sure we will fix some of the problems we have encountered today.”

The 2023 season will again be one of the busiest campaigns for The People’s Team as they will strive to retain the TNM Super League and the FDH Bank Cup as well as do well in the CAF Champions League and the Airtel Top 8 Cup that we failed to defend last season, losing it to the blue side of Blantyre, Wanderers.

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