David v Goliath as Bullets Reserves cross paths with big brothers in FDH Bank Cup final

Bullets’ Babatunde and Reserves’ Salima are fighting for the golden boot

The 2022 FDH Bank Cup final will prove to be a historic contest for Nyasa Big Bullets and Nyasa Big Bullets Reserves who will fight for the chance to lift Malawi’s prestigious Cup competition in its second edition.

The contest, which has been dubbed ‘family affair’, will be played at Kamuzu Stadium on Sunday afternoon in which fans belonging to the same entity will be divided throughout the afternoon.

For Bullets Reserves, drawn as the home side, it is a chance to write a unique history of winning the competition as a Premier Division side at the expense of the senior team which is the destination of some players who graduates from the Junior team.

For the main team, it is also a chance for the giants to lift the trophy they failed to win in its inaugural year after they were knocked out by the Silver Strikers who eventually won the Cup after getting the better of Ekwendeni Hammers at Bingu National Stadium.

No matter the outcome, what is certain is that history will be made in this year’s Cup final which will be played at Kamuzu Stadium for the first time since its inspection last year.

Bullets Reserves

The junior side has undertaken an against-all-odds journey to the FDH Bank Cup final in this year’s campaign, especially considering that they are a Premier Division side playing their trade in the Southern Region Football League.

Enos Chatama’s side started the campaign with a comfortable 8-1 win over FOMO to progress to the second preliminary round where they also eliminated Ntaja United 2-0 at Mpira Stadium to qualify for the national draw.

When the draw was conducted, the junior team was drawn against Mighty Tigers in the Round 32 which was played at Mpira Stadium. The regulation time produced no goals and the match had to be decided on penalties from which the team progressed to the Round 16, beating Tigers 3-2.

From there, Red Lions was next to play Chatama’s side at Balaka Stadium.

It was an intriguing match with the hosts dominating the opening half but they failed to unlock a very stubborn defense led by Andrew Lameck and Happy Mphepo.

The Zomba based Soldiers were left to regret when Chikumbutso Salima tormented them in the second half before he was brought down inside the penalty box to step up and scored the only which sent them to the quarterfinals of the competition.

The higher they went, the tougher it became for the junior team and Blue Eagles stood in their way to the finals when the quarterfinal draw was held.

Knowing how good Eagles have performed in the 2022 season, many predicted a walk over but they had no idea of what Chatama and his boys planned against the area 30 based side.

On the match day, Chifuniro Mpinganjira gave Eliya Kananji’s side a lead in the 35th minute and they went to the recess with an advantage over Bullets Reserves.

In the second half, the giant killers only needed two minutes to put the match on level in a brilliant fashion.

Salima, who was mostly silent in the first half, used his pace to outrun Maxwell Gustava on the right flank before sending a very dangerous cross into the penalty box which was connected into the net by the advanced Wongani Kaponya, 1-1.

Referee Mercy Mziya added six minutes to the clock and the moment that all Bullets Reserves fans were waiting for arrived in the 94th minute.

Yamikani Mologeni was the architect of the move to Salima who squared the ball into the box to Chinong’one who made no mistake by slotting home to send the whole Stadium into a frenzy of celebrations.

This was a final nail on Eagles’s coffin as Mziya blew her whistle to mark the end of the match.

The result over Eagles meant the team would face Extreme FC, an equally good side which had also eliminated Changalume Barracks in the quarterfinals at Balaka Stadium.

The match against a fellow Premier Division side was a nonstarter as Extreme FC made life very difficult for Chatama’s boys throughout the match which was 1-1 at half time.

Bullets Reserves needed a second half penalty goal through Salima to progress to the final and they had to wait for the winner between Big Bullets and Mighty Mukuru Wanderers who were meeting a week later in the semis at Bingu National Stadium.

Bullets hammered their rivals 4-0 to set up a final showdown with their junior team.

Nyasa Big Bullets have dominated the domestic football for the better part of the 2022 season and the past five years while their closest rivals Wanderers and Silver have blown hot and cold with series of mixed outcomes in each and every season.

The People’s Team are on the verge of clinching their fourth successive Super League and are in the FDH Bank Cup finals in which a win, will now see them targeting a treble with Airtel Top 8 Cup competition starting towards the end of the current campaign.

Kalisto Pasuwa’s side started the FDH Bank Cup campaign with a comfortable 3-1 win away to Sable Farming in the Round 32.

From there, they had Moyale Barracks in sight in the Round 16 at Kamuzu Stadium. It was an exciting fixture which lived to its billing no wonder it produced eight goals as Bullets gave away a lead three times before the match was decided on penalties.

Richard Chimbamba stepped up and saved two penalties to send his team through to the quarterfinals of the competition, winning 4-2.

Their next destination was a trip away to Chitipa United in the last 8 of the Cup. The match was played at Rumphi Stadium on a pitch which was bumpy and dry. This alone was a setback to Pasuwa’s side which is known for its passing game and the only way out was to change their style of play to suit the environment.

A strike in each half from Babatunde Adepoju and Anthony Mfune ensured Bullets’ victory to set up a semifinal showdown with cross-town rivals Wanderers at BNS in Lilongwe.

It was a period in which Bullets had registered back to back defeats in the CAF Champions League to Simba SC and many never gave them a chance of beating their rivals considering the fact that earlier on, Wanderers had staged a stunning comeback to draw 3-3 in the Super League.

But just when everybody thought it would signal the beginning of a decline for Pasuwa’s charges, The People’s Team rose to the occasion and hammered their bitter rivals 4-0 courtesy of Gomezgani Chirwa, Hassan Kajoke, Mfune and Babatunde to progress to set up a family affair with their Junior team.

Current form

The Reserves haven’t been inactive for the last three weeks due to national team engagements after the team sent six players to represent the Malawi National Team Under 20 at the just ended Cosafa Cup tourney in Eswatini.

Bullets are heading into this Cup final unbeaten in the last 36 matches across all the domestic competitions since last season. The last time Bullets tasted a defeat in the domestic competitions was in September last year when they lost 1-0 to Wanderers in the Super League.

But since then, they have been dominant to the extent of leading the championship table with 61 points from which they have 19 wins and 6 draws and they have scored a whooping 58 goals in the process.

But they will face the junior team on the backdrop of three consecutive draws in the league to Civil Service United, Silver Strikers and Blue Eagles before they bounced back with a comfortable 5-1 win over Sable Farming on Wednesday.

Several of Bullets’ key players were rested, an indication that Pasuwa will go for the kill in this highly anticipated Cup final.


The two teams met in the competition for the first time last term when the main team endured a spirited assault from their young brothers to book themselves a place in the quarterfinals through penalties.

It took a penalty miss from Reserve side’ Mologeni to hand the senior team the much needed space.

Luke Chima had opened the scoreline for the senior team before the lads leveled through Kesten Simbi from the spot.

It was a family affair that saw everyone fighting for their glory, such that it sent shivers down the senior spine.

Has this happened before?

This ‘family affair’ showdown is nothing strange in Malawian football. In 1997, Bullets were booted out of CAF Champions League after they lost both home and away matches to a Zimbabwean side.

Just like that year, Bullets’ next opponent was Wanderers in Press Cup semi-final at Civo Stadium and The People’s Team vented their anger on their rivals when they thrashed them 5-0 to set up a final against their Reserves team which was popularly known us Banyamulenge. The main team won the cup after beating their junior team 5-1 courtesy of a brace from Andrew Chikhosi and lone strikes from Jones Nkhwazi, Chikondi Banda and James Chimera Jr. Banyamulenge’s consolation goal was scored by Justin Mphamba.

The match was played at Civo Stadium in Lilongwe.

It will also be the second time for Bullets to face a Premier Division side in a Cup final after they faced Zomba United in 2014 in the Carlsberg Cup final in which Bullets won 2-0.

What did the two coaches said before the showdown?

Chatama fired warning shots at Bullets saying the last meeting between the two teams ended through penalties but this time around, he will go hard on the senior team.

“It will be a very tough game. As it is, we have been playing at Kamuzu Stadium for the past five years and we have only lost once to Red Lions in 2019. We have never lost in a Cup game in an open play. We lost to Moyale Barracks 5-4 on penalties in 2018, we lost 4-3 to Blue Eagles on penalties as well and we also lost 5-4 to Bullets on penalties last year. We have never lost a match in the regulation time and we believe we gonna go hard on Sunday,” he told the press.

His opposite number saluted the junior team for the strides made and warned his charges not to look at their opponents as a ‘reserve’ team but rather a side on its own which made it to the final by no fluke.

“Very interesting, but may be one thing, it’s no longer a Reserve side because those boys are there by no fluke, they are a team which is standing on its own and you can see the way they have been playing throughout. They have been playing very good football which means, as the senior side, we need to prepare well in order for us to take the Cup home,” he said.

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