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Match Preview: Balaka vs Bullets

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Defending champions FCB Nyasa Big Bullets return to cup action with the FDH Bank Cup round-of-16 away clash against Balaka FC at Balaka Stadium on Sunday.

The search for a successive title in this competition continues for The People’s Team as Kalisto Pasuwa’s men will be up against a non-league outfit for the second time in the year’s prestigious club competition.

Bullets opened the FDH Bank Cup defence with a 4-0 hammering of Ndirande Stars in the round-of-32 at Kamuzu Stadium last month.

Since the start of the national cup in the 2020/21 season, Maule have fared well against lower league teams, beating Bullets Reserves twice and Rumphi United once.

Form Guide 

We go into Sunday’s clash against Balaka having dropped points in the TNM Super League following a 2-2 stalemate at home against Dedza Dynamos, our first draw in the Super League campaign at home this season.

But before last week’s clash, Pasuwa’s charges hammered Blue Eagles 3-0 at Kamuzu Stadium to retain to winning ways after they recorded two back-to-back goalless draws against Kamuzu Barracks and Mighty Mukuru Wanderers.

With the focus now fixed on advancing to the last eight of the competition, the defending champions face a tricky opponent that would be determined to emulate the giant-killing feats the tournament has been known to dish up since its launch.

The men from Balaka managed to beat Prison FC 5-2 before playing out to a goalless draw against the Premier Division ThumbsUp Southern Region Football League Group A leaders, Bangwe All Stars Reserves, to finish the first round of the second-tier competition on 4th position with 14 points.

To reach this stage of the FDH Bank Cup, they defeated Chilumba Barracks 2-1 in the round-of-32 at Balaka Stadium.

Head-to-Head

It will be a historic occasion at Balaka Stadium, with the two teams facing off for the first time.

Team News

Bullets will be welcoming back Lanjesi Nkhoma, Patrick Mwaungulu, Frank Willard and Alick Lungu, who were with the Malawi National Team at the just-ended COSAFA Cup in South Africa.

Defender Nickson Nyasulu, forward Maxwell Phodo and midfielder Stanley Billiat are part of the squad travelling to the Eastern Region following their recovery from injuries.

Pasuwa has however been dealt with another fresh injury blow in Gomezgani Chirwa, who has missed this trip after he sustained an injury during training ahead of the match.

The People’s Team will still be without defender Clyde Senaji and midfielders Mike Mkwate and Ernest Petro due to injuries.

Senaji is working on his fitness, having been on the sidelines for almost a month whilst Petro is expected to start light training this coming week.

Mkwate remains the only player who will be on the sidelines for a very long period after he got injured during the Castel Challenge Cup launch against Silver Strikers last month.

What Kalisto Pasuwa said ahead of the tie

A very good but challenging game we are anticipating against Balaka. My worry is the failure of my players to adjust to these knockout games. As you know it’s one game [that] if we win, we are safe and sound, but if we lose, we are out.

And considering that we are playing a side that we have no idea of, but [they should be] very energetic with youngsters, we need to be a step ahead of them in everything. We need to deal with aerial threats after we got exposed last week against Dedza Dynamos. We have been addressing it and think we are okay and looking forward to playing them with better performance.

The problem we are facing right now is our inability to adjust to playing in different competitions at once. We played Yanga [in a friendly match on Independence Day] where we had a system that we used, dropping and attacking through spaces. It worked for us and you could see that the players were okay with it. We then played in the league matches and that’s where we encountered problems because you could see the players losing confidence. The buildup we saw against Yanga was nowhere to be seen in these local games.

Maybe we can attribute this to the injuries that we are having at the moment because when having a team, you need to have a spine. If u can look at our team, the spine was either injured or with the national team, so we had a whole changed side that was playing and we were failing to adjust to the situation at hand hence struggling. But we are working on this and we will come out good, it’s just a matter of time.

It’s a massive boost to have the four players who were with the national team back because they are fit and it’s an added advantage to have them back.

How to follow the game

The match will be live on Mpira TV and online it will be streamed on FIFA+. You can also catch the match updates on our Facebook and Twitter channels.

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