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Opponents watch: Bullets vs Tigers

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FCB Nyasa Big Bullets return to TNM Super League action for our 19th match of the season with a crucial home fixture against Mighty Tigers at Kamuzu Stadium on Thursday afternoon.

The People’s Team will go into this match straight from a disappointing CAF Champions League second preliminary round first leg 1-0 home defeat to the Democratic Republic of Congo champions TP Mazembe at the Bingu National Stadium last Sunday.

In the upcoming fixture, Kalisto Pasuwa’s side will be looking for all three points against Kau Kau to keep the TNM Super League title dream alive.

Bullets currently sit second in the standings with 37 points, two behind log leaders Chitipa United who have played 21 games.

Pasuwa’s men have stayed three weeks without taking part in domestic competitions due to the CAF Champions League participation, leading to the defending champions playing fewer games than the rest of the teams.

The third and fourth-placed Mighty Mukuru Wanderers and Silver Strikers have collected 37 and 36 points after playing 20 and 21 games, respectively.

Before the Thursday encounter at home, let’s take a look at how Mighty Tigers have performed in the current campaign.

Christopher Nyambose’s side started the campaign with a 1-0 home win over Chitipa United at Mpira Stadium. The points were collected through George Chaomba’s lone strike to ensure a winning start to the new campaign.

The following week, the Kanjedza outfit was hosted by Bangwe All Stars at the same Mpira Stadium where the highly anticipated clash ended goalless, failing to live up to its billing, much to the disappointment of the thousands of fans who came to witness the Blantyre derby from the eastern side of the city.

In the third week, they hosted Civil Service United. It was this week that the Kau Kau boys registered their first defeat of the season as they went down 1-0 to the Servants.

Their next assignment was another home fixture against Mighty Mukuru Wanderers in Chiwembe. Tigers came from behind to draw 1-1 courtesy of a second-half spot kick by Precious Chiudza.

In week five, they were also at home when they faced Mafco FC. Trouble Kajani came to the rescue with a second-half equalizer to earn one point in a match that was going Mafco’s way.

They then travelled to Lilongwe to fulfil their rescheduled fixture against Silver Strikers at Bingu National Stadium. It was a match in which Nyambose’s charges struggled to cope with Silver’s pace, but it ended goalless, with Innocent Nyasulu to their rescue with excellent saves throughout the match.

On their way to Blantyre, they stopped in Dedza to play Dedza Dynamos. Kajani had given them a lead that was cancelled out by the current leading scorer, Clement Nyondo. The match ended 1-1.

Tigers returned to Mpira Stadium in week eight when they hosted Ekwendeni Hammers. Mphatso Magaleta’s goal from the spot was enough to condemn the hosts to their second home defeat.

Next was a game away to Karonga United up North where Kajani was on the scoresheet again when he handed his side a first-half lead, but Josiah Duwa cancelled from the spot, meaning in nine games, they also collected nine points, dropping 15 and found themselves in the bottom five of the standings.

They stopped in Mzuzu for another away game against Moyale Barracks. It was at this point where they registered their second win in ten games and first win away from home. Chiudza was on target for the Kau Kau boys as they defeated the soldiers 1-0.

In week 11, they hosted Kamuzu Barracks at Mpira Stadium. Gregory Nachipo scored the only goal in the second half to condemn Tigers to their third loss at home.

Things got worse when they registered three back-to-back defeats as they next suffered 1-0 and 2-1 losses to Red Lions and Chitipa United away from home. The consolation goal against Chitipa was scored by Zikani Munthali.

A week before facing us on 2 August, they played out to a goalless draw at home to Blue Eagles.

We played them on the final day of the first round in which we shared one point each following a 1-1 draw. We had to come from behind through a second-half strike from Ephraim Kondowe, who cancelled out an early goal from Precious Chiudza.

In the second round, Tigers started with a 1-0 loss at home to Bangwe All Stars. Robert Saizi’s goal was enough to condemn the hosts to yet another home defeat in the current campaign.

Next on the menu was a trip to the Central Region where they played out to a goalless draw against Civil.

They collected their first three points of the second round when they comfortably beat Dedza Dynamos 2-0 through Chiudza’s brace to take them out of the relegation zone.

But they could not continue with their winning form as they received a baptism of fire from Eagles who recorded a convincing 3-1 win over Nyambose’s men. Tigers scored their consolation goal through Precious Chipungu.

Before returning to Blantyre, they had another assignment against the relegation-bound Extreme FC. Messiah Kachingwe’s strike was the difference as Kau-Kau went back to Blantyre with three points.

They hosted Chitipa United in week 20 at Kamuzu Stadium where Chipungu and Chiudza scored in each half to help Tigers register two back-to-back victories for the first time this season.

Tigers’ fairytale run continued when Chipungu scored again to inspire his side to yet another important victory in their quest for survival with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over the struggling Zomba-based soldiers, Red Lions.

In 22 matches, they have 27 points, scoring 15 goals and conceding 16.

Tigers’ records against Bullets

Over the last decade, Bullets have so far met Tigers 27 times in the Super League, winning the majority of their encounters.

Since 2009, The People’s Team has registered 17 wins, ending up on the losing side just two times, drawing eight times while scoring 44 goals and conceding 16.

The highest-scoring victory over Tigers came in the first round of the 2022 season when Pasuwa’s men showed no mercy by putting five goals past their opponents.

Tigers’ last win over Bullets was in November 2011 when the Kau Kau boys hammered The People’s Team 3-0 in the league, but since then they have danced to the tune of the log leaders who have collected points over and over again regardless of the venue apart from the current season where they got a point over Bullets following a 1-1 draw.

Their current leading scorer

Chiudza is probably their dangerous man on the field as has found the back of the net six times. The current leading scorer for the Kanjedza outfit has formed a deadly combination with Chipungu as the duo has been combining in most of the goals scored by Nyambose’s charges. Chipungu has four goals to his name, with Kajani coming in third with three goals.

Excellent goalkeeping

Kau-Kau’s key secret this season has been the outstanding performances from their goalkeeper Innocent Nyasulu, who is the only shot-stopper in the top-flight league with five penalty saves, one of which was against us in the first round when he denied Hassan Kajoke from scoring from 12 yards with a fantastic save.

He has been playing a vital role in his side’s overall performance this season with crucial saves and no wonder he has kept nine clean sheets to his name, and in the current season, the only game in which he has conceded more than two goals was in their 3-1 loss to Blue Eagles.

But his resilience will once again be put to the test when he comes face to face with the highest-scoring team in the ongoing season, the Bullets who have found the back of the net 34 times.

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