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Match preview: Mafco vs Bullets

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FCB Nyasa Big Bullets are in Dwangwa for the TNM Super League midweek fixture against Mafco FC at Chitowe Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.

It’s a match which allows Kalisto Pasuwa’s charges to return to the summit of the table after they were displaced by Silver Strikers on Sunday following their Sunday’s 2-1 victory over Blue Eagles.

The People’s Team will be making the first appearance at Chitowe in a league match since 2019, having met Mafco at Dedza Stadium where we suffered a 1-0 defeat in the 2022 campaign.

In the 2021 season, Bullets were in Dwangwa for the Airtel Top 8 quarterfinal second-leg tie against the Salima-based soldiers, coming from behind to win 2-1.

On Wednesday, the defending champions have to be at their level best against a side determined to bounce back from their last two back-to-back defeats in the league, having lost to Mighty Mukuru Wanderers and Bangwe All Stars.

Form Guide

Bullets are coming from a hard-fought 4-2 quarterfinal shootout victory over Extreme FC in the FDH Bank Cup at Civo Stadium on Saturday.

But before the cup victory, the 16-time league winners had a frustrating 1-1 draw against Mighty Tigers at Kamuzu Stadium, finishing the first round with 30 points, 11 points short of what we achieved in the first round of the 2022 season when we finished with 41 points.

This season alone, The People’s Team has had more draws in the first round, six, than they did in the last four seasons.

Kalisto Pasuwa and his men will be hoping to start the final half of this campaign on a very high note and challenge the Top 4 teams, who have pushed them throughout the opening half.

On the other hand, the soldiers would want to send a statement of intent in the race for a Top 8 finish following their lacklustre performance in the first 15 games.

Mafco, 11th in the standings, have recorded eight defeats, two draws and five wins, collecting 17 points from which they have scored 15 goals and conceded 21.

They go into Wednesday’s match with more confidence, having progressed to the FDH Bank Cup semis with a 5-4 penalty shootout win over Bangwe All Stars.

Head-to-Head

Since 2010, the two teams have met 22 times, with Bullets registering 11 wins and sharing the spoils in ten meetings as Mafco has recorded two wins over The People’s Team.

The only season in which they didn’t play each other was in 2019 when Mafco was playing in the Chipiku Central Region Football League after being relegated.

Bullets did a double over the soldiers in the 2010 season when we handed them a 4-3 defeat at Kamuzu Stadium before a 0-1 win away at Chitowe in the reverse fixture.

In 2011, the two teams played a goalless draw in the first round before they also shared a point apiece with a 1-1 draw in Dwangwa.

The following season saw Bullets collecting four out of the possible six, winning 2-0 away at Chitowe before sharing the points with a 2-2 draw in the final fixture at Kamuzu Stadium.

Mafco got the better of Bullets in 2013 when they won 2-0 at Chitowe and played to a goalless draw at Kamuzu Stadium in the reverse fixture.

2014 saw the two sides sharing points with 1-1 draws in the two fixtures.

But we collected six points in 2015 when we registered 1-0 victories over Mafco in our two meetings that season.

Bullets beat Mafco 2-0 in the first-round match of the 2016 season and forced them to a 2-2 draw at Chitowe.

The People’s Team then won 2-1 in the first-round match of the 2017 season at Chitowe but failed to beat the soldiers at Kamuzu Stadium as the match ended goalless.

The following year saw us claiming a double again when we hammered the visitors 3-1 at Kamuzu Stadium and won 1-0 away at Chitowe in a season in which the soldiers got relegated from the top-flight league.

We met again in the 2020/21 campaign when the Salima-based side returned to the TNM Super League, and the two matches ended 0-0 and 1-1.

Last season, Bullets won the first fixture with a 1-0 margin at Kamuzu Stadium courtesy of Precious Sambani’s strike but lost the reverse fixture at Dedza Stadium through a Zikani Sichinga first-half goal to eventually end Bullets’ unbeaten league run.

In the current season, we defeated Prichard Mwansa’s charges with a convincing 4-0 victory. By then, the team was under the guidance of Stereo Gondwe, who was demoted following their difficult start to the current season.

Team News

Mike Mkwate, Alick Lungu and Stanley Billiat are out of this tie due to injuries.

What Pasuwa said ahead of the match

“A very physical team and we are not expecting an easy match. They always give us problems whenever we face them. They give us torrid times in terms of secondary balls, but we need to change the gear because Mafco will give us a clear picture of what we will face in the CAF Champions League where the games are more physical and we face big players. So, these players must stand up and fight for the club like men for us to come up with points.

Most of the boys are new because the last time we played here [at Chitowe], we had the senior players who were still around. The only players to have played here are Righteous Banda, McFallen Mgwira, Hassan Kajoke and Richard Chimbamba, but the rest are new. We are anticipating an environment where the home team will do anything to get a result, but most of our players are familiar with this atmosphere.

We have some of the guys who didn’t come here because of injuries but we travelled with Ernest Petro who is recovering as one way of our continuous assessment of him as you know he will play a role in the CAF Champions League, so we thought it wise to bring him aboard.”

How to follow the game

You can catch the updates of the match which will kick off at 14h30 on our Facebook and Twitter channels.

Match officials

Veteran referee Godfrey Nkhakananga will be in charge of officiating in our TNM Super League fixture as we face Mafco away at Chitowe Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.

Referee: Godfrey Nkhakananga

Assistant Referee 1: Yonas Jonas

Assistant Referee 2: Olive Chimera

Fourth Official: Lameck Manda

Match Assessor: Christina Chioko

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