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Pasuwa’s Charity Shield pre-match interview: Bullets vs Wanderers

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FCB Nyasa Big Bullets Head Coach Kalisto Pasuwa spoke to club media ahead of Sunday’s Blantyre derby against Mighty Mukuru Wanderers in the NBS Bank Charity Shield at Bingu National Stadium.

The two Blantyre rivals travel to the Capital Lilongwe to face off in the 2023 season curtain-raiser that kicks off on April 15.

Pasuwa shared his thoughts on the upcoming derby, the second this season after he met Mark Harrison’s side during the 2023 Pre-Season International Bonanza last month when they shared the spoils in a goalless draw at Kamuzu Stadium.

He also discussed our pre-season preparations and transfers, saying he anticipates a tough season as he expects the ‘top guns’ to come hard to challenge for the honours after his side dominated last season, highlighting that fellow title contenders have done well on the transfer market to beef up their squads.

Our Head Coach also provided an injury update ahead of the trip to Lilongwe. Read on for the full transcript:

On pre-season…

Yeah, so far, so good, but again, like what we have been preaching, as Bullets, in most of our pre-season, we have been training without half of the team. And if you can look at it, these are the regular players that we use at the end of the day but the unfortunate part of it, this year, it was a case of including several of the youngsters we promoted last season. We wanted them to be part of the preparations so as to master whatever we do as you know it’s not a case of running only, we prepare for everything, including the players’ mindset, tactical awareness of it and all other aspects of football fitness, but with also the national team in the picture, we were sharing players and if you could see, the energy levels are different whenever we are playing and also to some of the guys whom we brought in, like Clyde Senaji, Collins Okumu and we’re also having youngsters like Ephraim [Kondowe], [Maxwell] Phodo as well, who are new into the system and we need them to master whatever we do whenever we are playing.

But [that said] we can’t be complaining all the way as games are now starting. We are ready, and we will try to push up as we go so that we can do better again, but everything is done in pre-season. If we prepare well in pre-season, it won’t be a problem so you always do this with a full squad and not half of the team so that when you are playing games, you are tactically better. You can’t just be hitting the ball anyhow and expect to score, we need movements and systems of how we attack during games.

On what he anticipates in the new season…

This year it’s not going to be easy, as you know, most of the teams ended up beefing up their squads to challenge us because of how we performed last season. They want to challenge us, and as Bullets, we also need to go a step further than what we did last time in terms of how we approach games. I am not only talking about the technical team on the ground but also the management and supporters who helped us a lot last season to win the championship, we need more out of them and more from our administration and everyone around so that we do better.

On facing Wanderers on Sunday…

Yeah, Wanderers [are] good opponents, a team which has been starving for results. If you put anything in front of them, they will grab it. [They are] meeting us again for the third time, last time we played them in a cup match, you could see immaturity in our players where when we were taking penalties some of the youngsters were running away and I had some of the senior guys who were chickening out when I thought they could lead by example as seniors and this is something that needs to be addressed. We lost on penalties, but I think this time around, everyone is geared up for the game and we will see how it goes.

On what he anticipates from his side having lost some key players at the end of last season…

It cannot be a better team than the previous one just because the previous squad won almost everything and for the current team to prove to me that they are better than their predecessors, they should have to show that on the ground. In football, you can go and buy Ronaldo, but when he comes on the pitch, it’s a different Ronaldo that you know. So, I am saying it’s performance first, then we see whether you can go over that one we had before.

On transfer dealings ahead of the new season…

We brought eight new players according to positions. With players at times, they give you another side of it. They can surprise you. You sign a player knowing he can give you A to D but then when he is playing games, he will give you A to B. As a coach, you come in and push him over so that he can give you the best. Players whom you think cannot do better will end up surprising you with an outstanding performance. I can’t complain, we were buying according to positions that we wanted to fill in and also, we were also looking for maturity and experience. Remember, we removed some of the experienced guys who were in the team, so we wanted to replace them so that maybe having situations like facing penalties, we don’t need to force youngsters to step up and take penalties at the expense of the experienced ones.

On injuries…

We have Precious Sambani and Gomezgani Chirwa who are still out due to the injuries sustained during the national team engagements. We also have Kajoke who is still in pre-season after he came back. He is still in pre-season until he finishes and we submit him to the team.

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