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Match preview: Bullets vs Chitipa

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Bullets return to Kamuzu Stadium for our third of the four remaining home games in the 2023 TNM Super League season when we host Chitipa United on Saturday afternoon.

The People’s Team will be looking to continue their dominance at home as they chase their fifth league title in a row with eight games remaining to wrap up the campaign.

On Saturday, Kalisto Pasuwa’s men have to face and overcome a very good side that hasn’t lost any game to the top three teams since earning promotion to the top-flight league from the Simso Northern Region Football League at the end of last term.

Form Guide

This fixture takes place exactly four days after Bullets’ most recent league outing, a hard-fought 3-2 victory over Moyale Barracks at Rumphi Stadium on Tuesday.

Three days earlier, the defending champions had to come from behind to salvage a point against Ekwendeni Hammers with a 1-1 stalemate at the same venue.

Bullets collected the four league points after a successful trip to the Central Region where we defeated Mafco FC 3-0 to retain the FDH Bank Cup, before claiming a vital 2-0 win over Civil Service United in the Airtel Top 8 Cup quarterfinal first leg.

Despite a disappointing CAF Champions League exit, The People’s Team has had 19 victories across all domestic competitions this term, winning 13 games in the TNM Super League, five in the FDH Bank Cup and one in the Airtel Top 8.

Pasuwa’s men haven’t lost any local game since their only league defeat to Saturday’s opponents in June at Karonga Stadium.

A win over the Northern Region-based outfit on Saturday will open a three-point gap over the second-placed Mighty Mukuru Wanderers, who will face Dedza Dynamos in their 26th fixture of the league campaign on Sunday.

As for the opposition, they have found the going very tough in the second round after they dropped to fourth position from third following their 2-2 draw with Blue Eagles at home.

In the last five matches, they lost 2-1 to Mighty Tigers before beating Bangwe All Stars 2-0, a match in which they were not at their level best despite collecting all the points and temporarily moving to the top of the table.

They then travelled to Kasungu where they lost 2-0 to Kamuzu Barracks before they beat Red Lions at Karonga Stadium through Ramadan Mtafu’s spot kick that helped them return to winning ways.

In the last match before their trip to Blantyre, they gave away a 2-1 lead to Blue Eagles in the last minute of the match to draw 2-2.

Chitipa is fourth in the standings with 43 points from 24 games.

Head-to-Head

The history between the two teams isn’t that huge, considering that they have only met in less than twelve meetings.

At Karonga Stadium, the venue they use for their home games, Chitipa United, has won once against Bullets.

Their first-ever victory came in June when an own goal from Collins Okumu inspired them to a memorable victory over the Malawi champions.

Despite this single win in the opening round of this campaign, they have played second fiddle to The People’s Team in previous meetings.

In the 2017 season, they lost 1-0 at home before losing 2-0 at Chilomoni Stadium in the reverse fixture.

Chitipa got relegated in that season and played the entire 2018 in the Northern Region Premier Division League.

In 2019, they returned to the top flight and met Bullets at Kamuzu Stadium in the first leg. Pasuwa’s side had a first-half 2-0 lead cancelled by the visitors when they staged a stunning comeback to draw 2-2, a result that had put Bullets’ title defence in jeopardy but ended up winning the championship.

In the second round, The People’s Team travelled to Karonga intending to reduce the gap, against rivals Wanderers in the title race, having dropped important points in the first round.

Bullets ran riot as they hammered Chitipa 3-0, courtesy of goals from Chiukepo Msowoya, Chimwemwe Idana and Hassan Kajoke and moved to two points within the log leaders, who had lost 2-3 at home to Moyale Barracks.

In the 2020/21 season, Bullets registered a double over Chitipa, winning 2-0 in the round of the campaign at Karonga Stadium before recording the same margin at Kamuzu in the reverse fixture.

There was no meeting between the two teams in the 2022 season as Chitipa were playing in the second tier following another relegation at the end of the 2020/21 season.

In cup competitions, the two teams have met twice, with Bullets winning on both occasions.

In 2018, they met in the then Fisd Challenge Cup quarterfinals at Kamuzu Stadium and Bullets progressed to the semis following a comfortable 5-0 triumph through Msowoya’s brace and lone strikes from McFallen Mgwira, Bright Munthali and Pilirani Zonda.

The two sides met again in the last-8 of the 2022 FDH Bank Cup at Rumphi Stadium where Babatunde Adepoju and Anthony Mfune guided Pasuwa’s side to a 2-0 victory to set up a semifinal showdown with Wanderers and went on to win 4-0 and progressed to the final where we defeated our junior team 3-1 to win the competition for the first time.

Team News

Clyde Senaji will undergo a late fitness test to see if he will be fit to face Chitipa United after suffering a minor knock during our Nothern Region outing, but the rest of the players, except Mike Mkwate, Alick Lungu, Ernest Petro and Kesten Simbi, continue to be on the sidelines due to long-term injuries.

Our opponents will be without Ghedo, who is serving a suspension after accumulating three yellow cards.

What Pasuwa said ahead of the match

“We have been talking about recovery, and that’s the song that we will be singing now because, as things are, we cannot be doing anything, we can’t load them, they have been travelling and we have just done a little bit of a training session for the match tomorrow, but it’s how we can manage the fatigue part of it so that we can fulfil these fixtures.

“Football is how you approach it. When we are playing games, all the players from the two teams have two legs, and you field eleven players each. Mentally, if we take ourselves to say we are Bullets, the result is a defeat. It’s the approach to the match that matters a lot. For us to win this game, we need to step up and be serious. There is no longer a small team. Remember, I am one person who talks about these other ‘small teams’ that we should expect anything from them.”

“[Chitipa are] very tough opponents. Hence, you have seen us being serious with how we are preparing ourselves.”

Kick-off time and how to follow the game

After Matchweek 26 fixtures were scheduled to start at 15h00 due to the heatwave in Malawi, we go back to the normal 14h30 kick-off time going into Week 27 of the campaign following the stabilization of the weather conditions.

Our match against Chitipa United will be streamed live online on the FIFA+ channel. You can also catch all the match updates on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Match officials

Gift Chicco will be the centre referee for Saturday’s home encounter as we face the fourth-placed Chitipa at Kamuzu Stadium.

Referee: Gift Chicco

Assistant Referee 1: Richard Shumba

Assistant Referee 2: Mussa Grant

Fourth Official: Honest Maulana

Match Assessor: Moffat Champiti

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