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Opponents watch: Blue Eagles vs Bullets

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FCB Nyasa Big Bullets returned to the Capital for another crucial TNM Super League fixture against Blue Eagles at Nankhaka Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

It is one of the two games in hand for Kalisto Pasuwa’s men, who if they collect all the points, will edge closer to our fifth league title in a row.

But on Sunday, The People’s Team will have to overcome a very resilient side that has always been a tough opponent, especially at their Area 30 base.

The defending champions have to be at their level best to collect all the points after they dropped points following a 1-1 stalemate away to Red Lions on Wednesday despite creating plenty of goal-scoring opportunities.

Ahead of the clash, let’s take a look at how Blue Eagles have performed in the last 13 games, their threats, and weaknesses.

The Area 30-based police side, who had a remarkable run in the 2022 season after finishing as runners-up, failed to continue from where they stopped as they struggled for results, especially in the first round of the current campaign.

In their opening five games, they had three draws, one win, and one defeat, collecting six points from a possible 15, yet in the 2022 season, they registered five straight wins in their first five games.

Eliah Kananji’s side kept on struggling for points in the first 15 games and finished in the bottom half of the standings going into the second round of the 2023 season.

Things slowly started improving in the second round when they recorded four wins in 12 games, moving into the top ten with 34 points from 28 games.

They were dealt with a massive blow when some of their players were sent to the Police Training School, including goalkeeper John Soko and Micium Mhone.

Eagles started the final half of the season with a 2-1 loss away to Silver Strikers.

Their next assignment was a home game against Bangwe All Stars and Kananji’s side gave away the lead twice to draw 2-2 to further go down the standings.

Next, they hosted Moyale Barracks and Nankhaka where the Mzuzu-based soldiers walked away with all the points through Gasten Simkonda’s lone strike to worsen the situation at Area 30.

The poor run forced the top hierarchy to call for an emergency meeting, hoping to improve the performance of the team to avoid a repeat of what happened to them in the 2020/21 season when they survived relegation on the final day of the campaign.

Their first win in the second round came in the fourth week when they convincingly beat Mighty Tigers 3-1 at home, before playing to a goalless draw away to Karonga United the following week.

Kananji’s side registered another win over Civil Service United away from home. The match ended 1-0 through Christopher Gototo’s first-half strike.

For the first time this season, Eagles managed to register three back-to-back victories as they beat Ekwendeni Hammers 2-0 before getting the better of Red Lions by a similar margin.

But their three-game winning streak came to an end when they lost 2-1 to Mighty Mukuru Wanderers at Nankhaka. It was a match in which Gototo saw his last-minute penalty kick stopped by Richard Chipuwa.

From there, they went on to lose 2-1 away to Dedza Dynamos, drew 2-2 away to Chitipa United and beat Extreme FC 3-0 away at Civo Stadium before losing 2-1 to Kamuzu Barracks at home.

In the last 13 matches, they have collected 18 points from the possible 39, scoring 19 goals, conceding 14 goals and keeping four clean sheets.

Their key men

From the 31 goals they have scored, Blue Eagles have eight different scorers, but Tonic Viyuyi and Gototo remain their dangerous men with more than five goals each.

They also have Mhone who is now back from police training, Schumaker Kuwali who can take on defenders and has a sharp eye for goal and Chikondi Mvula, who can also put the ball into the net if left unattended.

Style of play

Kananji’s side can build from the back and move into the final third with pace. Unlike the majority of domestic teams, Eagles have more ball players such as Kuwali, Mhone and Richard Rapson.

They also have a very good defending midfielder Paul Master who is good at dictating play from the midfield.

Our opponents on Sunday mostly operate from the wings led by Rapson and Mhone, who use their pace to bulldoze their way inside the attacking zone before feeding their frontmen.

They can also press from the middle of the field through Kuwali. The veteran midfielder is one of the dangerous players who can do anything with the ball and can create spaces for his attackers.

Usually, they play a 4-4-2 formation to accommodate Mvula and Gototo as two strikers.

Their weaknesses 

If caught off-guard, they can commit suicidal errors inside the box.

They have conceded 30 goals, a clear indication that they are not strong in defence, and their goalkeeping hasn’t been great since the departure of Brighton Munthali to South Africa’s Black Leopards.

On a good day, if Bullets press through their pacey wingers, there is a high probability of them finding a goal. Eagles struggle to defend against a very offensive side.

Bullets’ last two visits to Nankhaka

The last two visits to Sunday’s venue saw Bullets collecting four of the possible six points. In the Covid-19 stricken 2020/21 season, an early strike from Precious Sambani secured all the points for Bullets in a hard-fought victory.

Last season, the two teams played out to a 1-1 draw as Bullets came from behind to salvage a point.

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