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Opponents watch: Chitipa vs Bullets

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Bullets will be travelling up north for the first time this season to face Chitipa United in the TNM Super League at Karonga Stadium on Saturday.

This will be the sixth meeting between the two teams in all competitions.

We take a look at how Saturday’s opponents have performed so far in the 2023 season.

The rookies returned to the top-flight league at the end of the 2022 Simso Northern Region after they finished with 25 points from 14 matches in the group stages of the second tier, a year after they got relegated back to the Premier Division league.

Their promotion was confirmed after they defeated Mayamiko Stars 2-1 courtesy of a strike in each half from Bright Masebo.

Chitipa started their Super League journey with a 2-1 away defeat to Mafco FC in the first week.

Their next assignment was against their rivals Karonga United at Karonga Stadium where the MacDonald Mtetemera side had to fight back to earn a draw in a match that ended 2-2. They scored through Mabuchi Msiska and Ramadan Mntafu.

Next on the menu was a home game against Dedza Dynamos. Mtetemera’s side was in total control as they walked away with all the points courtesy of a double from Mntafu and a lone strike from their captain, Kenson Mlenga.

Then, they travelled to the Central Region to play Blue Eagles at Nankhaka Stadium. At some moment, the match was 3-0, but they scored a consolation goal through Mlenga towards the end of the match to lose 3-1.

They then returned to their base as they hosted fellow rookies, Extreme FC at Karonga Stadium. They made sure to use the home-ground advantage as they beat the Mchinji-based side 2-1 courtesy of Muyira and Rajab Nyirenda’s goals.

Last week they visited Blantyre to face Mighty Mukuru Wanderers at Kamuzu Stadium, their first outing to the Southern Region this season.

Against all odds, they took the game to Wanderers and made life very difficult for the Nomads, one of the title contenders this season.

By the end of 90 minutes, Mtetemera’s side stunned Wanderers with a 1-0 memorable win at Kamuzu Stadium through Chiukepo Msowoya’s own goal to move into fifth position on the log table with ten points from seven games.

Their performance away from home

In four away matches, the rookies have lost three games, drew once and won one.

Out of the possible 12 points, they have only collected four points away from home, having lost to Mafco, Eagles, and Ekwendeni Hammers, drew 2-2 with Karonga and won 1-0 away to Wanderers.

They have scored five goals and conceded six in all four away games.

In total, they have scored eleven goals and have kept one clean sheet.

Their performance against Bullets at home

The history between the two teams isn’t that huge, considering that they have only met in less than ten meetings.

At Karonga Stadium, the venue they mostly use for home games, Chitipa United has lost in all encounters against The People’s Team.

In the 2017 season, they lost 1-0 at home before losing 2-0 at Chilomoni Stadium in the reverse fixture.

They got relegated in that season and played the entire 2018 in the Northern Region Football League.

In 2019, they returned to the top-flight league and met Bullets at Kamuzu Stadium in the first leg. Pasuwa’s team had a first-half 2-0 lead cut off by the visitors when they staged a stunning comeback to draw 2-2, a result that threatened Bullets’ title defence.

In the second round, The People’s Team travelled to Karonga intending to reduce the gap between us and Wanderers in the title race, having dropped important points in the first round. Bullets run riot as we hammered the home side 3-0 courtesy of goals from Msowoya, Chimwemwe Idana and Hassan Kajoke to eventually move two points within log leaders Wanderers, who had lost 2-3 at home to Moyale Barracks.

In the 2020/21 season, Bullets registered a double over Chitipa when they won 2-0 in the first leg at Karonga before recording the same margin at Kamuzu in the reverse fixture.

There was no meeting between the two teams in the 2022 campaign as Chitipa were playing in the second tier following their relegation from the Super League at the end of the 2020/21 season.

In cup competitions, the two teams have met twice, with Bullets winning on both occasions.

In 2018, they met in the Fisd Challenge Cup quarterfinals at Kamuzu Stadium where Bullets hammered the visitors 5-0 win through Msowoya’s brace and lone strikes from McFallen Mgwira, Bright Munthali and Pilirani Zonda.

The two teams met again in the last 8 of the 2022 FDH Bank Cup at Rumphi Stadium where Babatunde Adepoju and Anthony Mfune guided Pasuwa’s side to a 2-0 victory to set up a semifinal showdown with Wanderers which they also triumphed with a comfortable 4-0 win to progress to the final where they defeated their junior team 3-1 to win the trophy.

Chitipa’s players to watch

In the ongoing season, they have five different scorers in what would be described as the best start to their Super League campaign.

The trio of Mntafu, Mlenga and Muyira has two goals each, whilst Nyirenda and Msiska have one goal each.

Lwemba is the leading man in defence with his high levels of maturity and calmness.

He is a true leader in the back-four with his ability to ease the pressure when the team is under siege, a ball player who normally leads in building from the back. He has already won two Man of the Match accolades, and he is one to watch when we play them.

Mntafu is another dangerous player on the field. The former Mzuni FC striker is still making headlines with his scoring abilities. He is very good in the air and very aggressive in attack. Sometimes, he would take defenders head-on and create spaces for fellow attackers to score goals. No wonder Chitipa United is among the highest-scoring teams in the current season because everyone can score for Mtetemera’s side.

Against Wanderers, they played a 4-3-3 formation, a clear indication that they don’t sit back. They believe in attacking.

The front three of Msiska, Ghedo Lorenzo and Nyirenda caused havoc on Wanderers’ defence with their high-pressing runs, restricting the Lali Lubani Boys from attacking using Stanley Sanudi and Wisdom Mpinganjira.

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