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Preview: Silver vs Bullets | TNM Super League

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FCB Nyasa Big Bullets will begin the TNM Super League title defence against Silver Strikers at the Bingu National Stadium this afternoon.

Bullets, who have returned to the same venue a week after defeating Mighty Mukuru Wanderers to retain the NBS Bank Charity Shield, will be gunning for maximum points in the opening game as we battle for a fifth championship in a row this campaign.

On the other hand, The Central Bankers will be looking forward to starting the league campaign on a very high note after finishing poorly in the 2022 season, when they failed to make it into the top four.

The Area 47 side, who were the runners-up in the 2020/21 season, struggled and had mixed results despite making some signings and changes to their coaching staff.

It will no doubt be a grudge match, especially on the side of The Bankers who lost twice to The People’s Team in the league and the Airtel Top 8 in the previous season.

The last time Bullets lost to Silver in a league match was on 9th May 2021 at Silver Stadium through a last-minute strike from Maxwell Phodo, who is now playing for the defending champions after completing a move on a three-year deal as a free agent in November.

Despite the short turnaround time between seasons, only Silver Strikers have experienced profound changes in personnel, most notably in the way of technical staff.

The Bankers, within the last twelve months, have changed the head coach thrice, with Daniel Kabwe replaced by interim Leo Mpulula before he moved to the junior team as they hired Pieter de Jongh on a full-time basis.

As for Bullets, they lost midfielder Chimwemwe Idana to Tanzania’s Mbeya City before he was loaned out to Saturday’s opponents and he is likely to play a vital role for his new team against his former club.

Bullets also lost striker Babatunde Adepoju who won the Golden Boot award after scoring 18 goals and was a key figure for Pasuwa’s title-winning campaign last season.

But the return of Mike Mkwate is a relief to The People’s Team as he was described by Pasuwa as a ‘playmaker who will make the team play’.

Team News

The Bankers have no injury concerns ahead of the tie, but Bullets will be without Precious Sambani and Gomezgani Chirwa, who are both recovering from injuries sustained during the national team engagements whilst Hassan Kajoke is still working on fitness levels having missed the majority of the pre-season preparations.

Head-to-Head

In the last 18 meetings between the two teams, Bullets have had more victories, eight, against Silver’s three in all league matches since 2013.

The last victory saw Bullets hammering this afternoon’s opponents 3-1 at Kamuzu Stadium, with all the goals coming in the opening 23 minutes of the match.

Last season, the two teams shared three points each as the Central Bankers scored late through Phodo to claim a 1-0 victory at Silver Stadium before losing the reverse fixture at Kamuzu Stadium courtesy of second-half strikes from Chimwemwe Idana and Precious Phiri.

In the 2019 season, Bullets claimed a double over their rivals with 3-1 and 1-0 wins.

The two teams shared a point apiece in 2018 when the first-round and second-round matches ended 1-1 and 0-0, respectively.

In 2017, Silver Strikers got the better of Bullets when they forced us to a 1-1 draw at Kamuzu Stadium before, claiming a 2-1 win in the second round at Silver Stadium.

Bullets collected four out of possible six points over the Area 47 side when we drew 1-1 in Lilongwe before beating them 2-1 at Kamuzu Stadium in the reverse fixture in the 2016 season.

2015 saw Bullets claiming two wins over the Reserve Bank of Malawi sponsored team, beating them 2-0 at Kamuzu Stadium and 2-1 at Silver Stadium in Lilongwe

Players to watch

Lanjesi Nkhoma (Bullets): He is one of Bullets’ dangerous players on the pitch with his pace and dribbling skills. He is a master of taking defenders one-on-one and has had a fairytale of a good run of form whenever he faces Silver Strikers. He is one of the players to watch this afternoon.

Stain Davie: He has had more goals over Bullets than any other player since the 2020/21 season and he remains Silver’s most dangerous player whenever facing Bullets at any venue. He also scored when the two teams met in the Airtel Top 8 final at Kamuzu Stadium, in which Bullets won through penalties following a 1-1 result in normal time.

He is not good with his foot but very dangerous in the air, and Bullets need to work out on their defensive flaws, especially when playing teams that rely on secondary balls and set pieces. In the 3-1 defeat to Bullets in the 2022 season he was also on the scoresheet.

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