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Opponents watch: Bullets vs Chitipa

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Back in Blantyre after our successful outings to the Central and Northern Regions, FCB Nyasa Big Bullets return to Kamuzu Stadium for a TNM Super League match against Chitipa United on Saturday afternoon.

Kalisto Pasuwa’s charges returned on Wednesday after spending two weeks away from home, playing two cup games in Lilongwe before proceeding to the North for two league fixtures in Rumphi.

The People’s Team successfully retained the FDH Bank Cup after hammering Mafco FC 3-0 and also took a giant step towards reaching the Airtel Top 8 semifinals following a convincing 2-0 quarterfinal first leg over Civil Service United.

In the two league matches, Bullets drew 1-1 with Ekwendeni Hammers before recording a 3-2 win over Moyale Barracks to move joint top of the standings with 47 points but with a superior goal difference and three games less than that of Mighty Mukuru Wanderers.

Before Saturday’s match, let’s take a look at how Chitipa have performed after making a return to the elite league this season.

Following their return from the Simso Northern Region premier division, Chitipa United has been a revelation for outstanding performances in this campaign, which includes two famous wins over Wanderers away and the defending champions, Bullets, at home. They currently sit in the top four as the 2023 season is slowly concluding.

Under McDonald Mtetemera, Inkhalamu Zga Ku Chitipa is one of the two teams yet to lose at home and one of the three teams to have registered 13 wins in the current season, the highest number of games to have ever been recorded by a newly promoted team in years.

However, they have found the going very tough in the second round, especially the last five games in which they have only managed to collect seven points from the possible fifteen, dropping into fourth position from third on goal difference after they were dislodged by Silver Strikers, who won 1-0 over Wanderers on Monday.

In those 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, but managed to collect all the points and temporarily moved top of the table.

Chitipa then travelled to Kasungu, where they lost 2-0 to Kamuzu Barracks.

They returned to their base and hosted Red Lions at Karonga Stadium. Ramadan Mtafu scored from the spot to help his team 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. They are fourth with 43 points from 24 games.

Chitipa’s performance at Kamuzu Stadium this season 

They have played two games at the Soccer Mecca, beating Wanderers 1-0 before losing 2-1 to Tigers.

How they have fared against Bullets at Kamuzu Stadium 

Chitipa are yet to register a victory against Bullets in Blantyre, but they staged a comeback in the 2019 season to score two quick second-half goals to draw 2-2.

The last visit for the Northern Region-based outfit was in the 2020/21 season and they lost 2-0 through a strike each from Hassan Kajoke and Chiukepo Msowoya.

Their dangerous men

From the 27 goals scored, Mtetemera’s charges have had multiple scorers. But, Mtafu is their dangerous man on the field with six of the total goals scored, seconded by the trio of Stimela Muyira, Lorenzo Ghedo Rajab Nyirenda and Kenson Mlenga, who have netted three goals each.

In defence, they have captain Chris Lwemba, who has been outstanding this season with top-class defending and leadership.

Then they have George Chikooka in between the two sticks. The goalkeeper is one of the longest-serving members of the club.

In the current season, he has had several Man of the Match accolades, and he is in the chase for the Golden Boot with eleven clean sheets.

His experience will also be vital on Saturday against Bullets, the highest-scoring team in the 2023 season.

Head-to-Head

Bullets and Chitipa have met seven times in all competitions, with The People’s Team winning five, drawing once and losing once.

The first-round match ended 1-0 in favour of Chitipa, who collected all three points through Collins Okumu’s own goal at Karonga Stadium.

In all the previous encounters, Chitipa were never in contention for the title, but now in the top four, Saturday’s showdown at Kamuzu Stadium promises to be different from the last meetings.

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