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Match preview: TP Mazembe vs Bullets

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FCB Nyasa Big Bullets continue the CAF Champions League journey with the return leg of the second preliminary round against TP Mazembe away in Lubumbashi on Saturday afternoon.

Bullets arrived in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Friday morning for the tie to be played at Stade de Mazembe in the country’s second-largest city located in the southeast, along the border with Zambia.

The Congolese giants stand between The People’s Team and an extended run in the continent’s premier club competition as we look to overturn the 1-0 first-leg loss we suffered in Lilongwe to claim a spot in the group stages.

The Malawi champions last reached the group stages in 2004 and will be seeking to turn the tables in the quest to become among Africa’s elite clubs.

However, Kalisto Pasuwa’s men have to be at their level best to record such feet against the CAF Champions League five-time winners, who have a rich vein of history in Africa’s biggest club competition and will be playing at their 18,500-capacity arena.

Form Guide

Bullets head into the clash after enjoying two back-to-back victories in domestic competitions. The People’s Team had also won two games in a row before the 1-0 first-leg defeat to Mazembe at home 13 days ago and will be looking to ensure that their momentum is recovered as they seek to overturn the deficit and rewrite history.

Our recent victories include a 1-0 hard-fought victory over Mighty Tigers in the TNM Super League and a comfortable 5-1 win over Dedza Dynamos in the FDH Bank Cup semi-finals to book a place in the final of the competition we are defending.

The Malawi champions have been sharp on both ends of the field as they have netted six goals and only conceded once and will hope to continue the trend in the DRC.

Saturday’s opponents will, however, not be short on confidence after hammering eighth-placed US Panda 4-0 in their domestic league.

Their first-leg away win against us in Malawi will also put them at an advantage, knowing that even a draw will take them through to the group stages.

Head-to-Head 

This will be the second meeting between the two teams, having met in the first leg in which Cheik Fofana scored in the 6th minute to handle them an important away win in Lilongwe.

Team News

Pasuwa travelled to Lubumbashi without Precious Sambani and Blessings Mpokera who are out with injuries. The duo was part of the squad that helped The People’s Team reach this stage of the competition. They both started in our 2-0 victory over Dragon away in Malabo and the vice-captain was also in the first XI against Mazembe at home, before he was substituted due to a groin injury and has been on the sidelines for two weeks now, while Mpokera picked an injury while on national duty as Malawi faced Guinea in the AFCON qualifiers in August.

Peter Banda and Maxwell Phodo, who missed the second preliminary round first leg tie at the Bingu National Stadium on 17 September, are part of the squad that has travelled, although the former Simba SC player will have to pass a late fitness test for him to be considered for selection on Saturday afternoon, alongside Ernest Petro, who started in all our last three CAF Champions League matches.

Ernest Petro and Peter Banda during training at Stade TP Mazembe on Friday afternoon. Photo by Kimpho Loka/Bullets Media.

Precious Phiri, who missed our two previous domestic ties in the TNM Super League against his former club Mighty Tigers as well as the FDH Bank Cup against Dedza Dynamos, is also back and available for selection against Mazembe.

Yamikani Fodya, who was on suspension due to a red card he picked in our first preliminary round 1-0 win over Equatorial Guinea champions Dragon FC at Bingu National Stadium, is also back and fighting for a place in the starting XI at Stade TP Mazembe.

What Pasuwa said ahead of the match

“The team is looking ready to go. We are coming here with a 1-0 loss; we need to look for a goal for us to be playing level with TP Mazembe. As much as we need a goal, we also need to be tactically good in approaching them [because] they are playing at home [and will be] very offensive, so we need to contain them first then look for goals to come.

Head coach Kalisto Pasuwa during the team’s final training session on Friday afternoon. Photo by Kimpho Loka/Bullets Media.

“Football being football, we played TP Mazembe at our home ground, the same way again we’re playing them here, we can find a win yes, but it’s a toll order to us as you know to most of the guys, they’re still youngsters whom we promoted [from our junior team]. We have a few senior players to help them in tactical awareness, but we need to do more for us to pull a result.”

How to follow the game

The game will kick off at 15h00 and you can catch the match updates on our Facebook and Twitter channels, with live commentary on Zodiak Radio.

Match officials

Egyptian referees will be in charge of our away second-leg tie against the Ravens at Stade TP Mazembe this afternoon, with the match commissioner coming from Equatorial Guinea.

Referee: Mahmoud Nagy Ahmed Nagy Mosa (Egypt)

Assistant Referee 1: Hany Abdelfattah Mahmoud Elsnadidy (Egypt)

Assistant Referee 2: Samir Gamal Saad (Egypt)

Fourth Official: Mahmoud Elbana (Egypt)

Match Commissioner: Pedro Alogo Ondo Abeku (Equatorial Guinea)

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