Big Bullets are in Lilongwe to face struggling Blue Eagles in the TNM Super League today at Nankhaka ground. Tomorrow, they will meet Epac FC.
Eagles are without influential captain John Banda who will miss the rest of the first round due to injury. But they say they still have the arsenals counter the Bullets.
“We have Japhet Mamberera and Chimwemwe Kalanje who can fit in Bandaâ€™s position. But I must admit that his absence is a great setback,” said Eagles coach Derklek Msakakuona in an interview during the week.
Last season, the two teams first drew 1-1 at the same venue and Bullets won the return leg 1-0 at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre.
Two points separate them. Bullets have 11 points from seven games whereas Eagles have nine points from nine games. Bullets have lost two games, won three and drawn two in this campaign whereas Eagles have lost four games, won two and drawn three.
However, Eagles got their revenge in the finals of the K12.5 million Fellowship Association of Malawi (Fama) Top Eight Trophy when they beat Bullets in a penalty shoot-out.
“It is a big game, of course, but we are training normally as we do not want to put pressure on the players. We are playing at home and we will use that advantage to get a result,” said Msakakuona.
Bullets will seek to translate their recent cup form, that saw them boot Escom United out of the Presidential Cup. Last week, they also beat arcrivals Mighty Wanderers in the Carlsberg Malawi Charity Shield Cup.
Bullets coach Eddington Ngâ€™onamo, who has a mixture of experience in Grant Lungu, Douglas Chirambo, Chiku Kanyenda, Chimango Kayira and also raw talent in Gabadinho Mhango, needs only a proper line-up to get a result.
“Our form in the league has not been consistent, but we think now the team has the coordination it was lacking. We are optimistic about winning in Lilongwe, although it will be tough,” said Ngâ€™onamo.
The return of Flames keeper Swadick Sanudi to the Peopleâ€™s Team gives Ngâ€™onamo added depth and option in goals. Sanudi has returned to the team after five years of professional football in South Africa.
Meanwhile, Bullets Central Region Executive Committee is encouraging all their fans to patronise the game today in their red and white colours.
“We are taking this game seriously as we want to catch up with Silver, Civo and Red Lions. We need to be there at Nankhaka in large numbers to support our team,” said the committeeâ€™s chairperson Austin Kasito.
Tomorrow, Ngâ€™onamo needs to be wary of the threat that is Ishmael Thindwaâ€”last yearâ€™s top goal scorer.
Despite, a poor start to the season, Thindwa is slowly picking up and regaining form.