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Match preview: Bullets v Wanderers

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Get the lowdown ahead of this weekend’s main attraction in the TNM Super League, the Blantyre derby against our rivals Mighty Mukuru Wanderers.

The People’s Team hosts the blue side of town at Kamuzu Stadium on Saturday afternoon in our third fixture of the league this campaign.

In what has for decades been the biggest fixture in the local football calendar, two colossal names in Malawian football go toe-to-toe for the first time this season with valuable three points up for grabs.

FORM

The two teams come into the latest edition of the historic derby with little separating them in terms of form and their location on the log table.

Nsanzurwimo Ramadhan’s men are in third position after four games, with the defending champions a step behind having played the same number of matches as their rivals. The two giants are only separated by goal difference and have each won two games and drawn twice.

Bullets started the new campaign with a 1-1 draw away to Dedza Dynamos before playing to a goalless stalemate against Mighty Tigers at home.

Pasuwa’s men collected all the points away to Chitipa United with a 3-0 victory through Babatunde Adepoju, Ephraim Kondowe and Patrick Mwaungulu’s strikes at Karonga Stadium.

Hosting Baka City on their return to Kamuzu Stadium last weekend, Bullets had to come from behind to beat the rookies 2-1 to move into the top four of the standings.

As for our opponents, they were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Kamuzu Barracks before hammering rookies FOMO FC 3-0 in their second fixture.

The Nomads welcomed another new side, Creck Sporting Club, at Kamuzu Stadium where they maintained their good scoring form, beating the Central Region visitors 3-0.

In their last assignment before this weekend’s clash, they were frustrated by Bangwe All Stars as they failed to score to draw 0-0, failing to dislodge the current log leaders, Silver Strikers, from the top spot.

Going into Saturday afternoon’s encounter, Bullets will be eyeing back-to-back victories to build winning momentum to keep pace with the Peter Mponda-coached Central Bankers, while Wanderers will be hoping to bounce back from their disappointing last outing.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Bullets currently hold the Blantyre derby bragging rights, having won eight matches in the last 22 games since 2012.

Our last derby win against Wanderers was in the first round of the 2022 season on Matchweek 1 when Anthony Mfune came from the bench to score the 2-1 winning goal in the final five minutes of the match.

Following that result, the two teams are yet to record a win over each other, with the previous three meetings ending in draws.

Our neighbours’ second league win over us since 2012 came in the 2021 season when Vincent Nyangulu scored the only goal to inspire them to a hard-fought 1-0 victory at the Kamuzu Stadium.

On Saturday, our opponents go into this fixture looking for their first league win since September 2021.

In Cup matches, Bullets remain unbeaten against the Nomads in the last five semifinal meetings in different competitions.

Pasuwa’s men, however, lost to Wanderers 5-4 on penalties in the Airtel Top 8 final at Bingu National Stadium in December 2022.

Overall, in the last eight cup meetings between the two teams, Bullets have six wins against Wanderers’ two, with five of them registered in the semis and one final.

KEY BATTLES

Fierce midfield battle

The two giants meet at a time when their sets of linkmen are having good form, especially in central midfield.

Bullets have found stability in Yankho Singo and Ernest Petro protecting the backline and initiating attacks.

The Nomads also have a hard-working engine room from where Felix Zulu and Blessings Singini are enjoying their game.

An epic battle in the middle of the park is on the cards and it could decide the afternoon.

Wanderers’ much-improved defence

In recent seasons, our opponents’ biggest weakness was their backline. But they tremendously improved at the back as they were the only side to concede fewer goals (16) than the rest of the competitors in the previous campaign. In the current season, they have only let in one goal from four matches, keeping three clean sheets in the process while Bullets have conceded two from the same number of games.

TEAM NEWS

Pasuwa will still be without Chikumbutso Salima and Maxwell Phodo due to injuries. The duo will return to full training next week.

But the champions received a boost this week following the return of goalkeeper Innocent Nyasulu, who was on the sidelines when we welcomed Baka City last Saturday due to eye problems.

Wanderers have also welcomed their captain, Lawrence Chaziya, who was out the previous two games after he was stretchered off in the first half due to a groin injury during their visit to FOMO at Mulanje Park on 14 April.

KICK-OFF TIME AND HOW TO FOLLOW ACTION

The showdown will kick off at 14h30 and the action will be live on Mpira TV. Alternatively, you can catch all the match updates on our Facebook and Twitter channels.

MATCH OFFICIALS

Mayamiko Kanjere and Yohane Chiutika, whose management of proceedings did not impress head coach Kalisto Pasuwa during our league opener away to Dedza last month, travel down South to officiate the big Blantyre derby as centre and second assistant referees.

Referee: Mayamiko Kanjere

Assistant 1: Pondamali Tembo

Assistant 2: Yohane Chiutika

Fourth Official: Cedric Mwachumu

Match Assessor: Moffat Champiti

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