Senaji (top) and Okumu
* 26-year-old Clyde Senaji is former player for Tusker and AFC Leopards player
* 25-year-old Collins Odhiambo Okumu is former Thika United, Posta Rangers and Bidco United defender
* Both have been under coach Kalisto Pasuwa’s assessment at the Bullets for three weeks
FCB Nyasa Big Bullets have signed two defenders from Kenya Clyde Senaji and Collins Odhiambo Okumu on a one-year deals as free agents and were both featured in the 2023 Pre-Season International Bonanza at Kamuzu Stadium over the weekend.
A report on nyasabigbullets.com says 26-year-old Senaji is former player for Tusker and AFC Leopards player and has been under coach Kalisto Pasuwa’s assessment at the Bullets for three weeks.
The Kenyan came on as a second-half substitute at Kamuzu Stadium in the 0-0 draw against Mozambican side Ferroviário de Nampula on Friday, and he was given full minutes against Mighty Wanderers on Saturday that also ended 0-0.
Senaji is quoted by nyasabigbullets.com as saying: “I am finally happy to get a contract with the champions of Malawi. It has been tough to secure a contract after undergoing high-intensity training with the team and I am looking forward to achieving more with this big club.”
On playing in front of thousands of Bullets supporters during the bonanza, he is quoted as saying: “I have played for a big team in Kenya, AFC Leopards, which has a huge following, just like Bullets, so I was up for the challenge and it came out good.”
Senaji was also delighted to work under Pasuwa, describing him as an achiever, saying: “He has been winning and you can tell from his CV that he is a winner. What he has achieved speaks for itself, so I am happy to work for him and I am looking forward to seeing what the future holds when we start the new season.”
As for 25-year-old Collins Odhiambo Okumu, nyasabigbullets.com said he also underwent a three-week trial with the club, including being used in the Pre-Season International Bonanza.
He came on as a second-half substitute against Ferroviário de Nampula before being given all 90 minutes in the 0-1 loss to UD Songo on Sunday.
He is quoted by nyasabigbullets.com as saying playing for the Malawi champions will give him a good platform to showcase his talent, adding: “I believe Bullets is a big team. I am looking forward to the new challenge and I promise to work hard because I believe in myself.”
The former Thika United, Posta Rangers and Bidco United defender paid homage to Bullets fans for the support rendered when he was featured in the 2023 Pre-Season Bonanza.
“It was a nice environment because judging by the experience, the fans push you to work extra harder and playing in front of them was a plus for me. I thank them for the support they gave me on Sunday.
Meanwhile, coach Pasuwa told nyasabigbullets.com that he is impressed with how his charges performed during the three-day Pre-Season Bonanza.
After a back to back barren draws against Ferroviário de Nampula and Mighty Wanderers, the People’s Team needed a win against UD Songo to leapfrog the Mozambican champions, who had four points but succumbed to a 0-1 loss.
The Bullets media report says Pasuwa’s charges dominated the majority of the game as they managed to keep possession and created chances but lacked a killer punch against Songo, who eventually scored after the half-hour mark and defended their goal with everything to frustrate the Malawian champions.
The coach told the online publication that if there was a game that he was at ease was against UD Songo’s opposition, saying: “It was a very good game indeed where we were keeping possession away from our opponents and as I said, it’s pre-season and that’s one game where as a coach, I wasn’t having pressure and I was seated for almost thirty minutes when my boys were all over these guys, rotating the ball very well.
“But it was only one mistake and we were punished and that’s exactly what happened to us when we were playing the international games [in the CAF Champions League] where we got punished for two mistakes and the same thing happened again [today].
“In the second half, we tried to go forward but again it is the attacking thrust that we are lacking as you know we lost two of our best scorers or even one of our central midfielders, but again we still need to work on the attacking third from midfield to attack.
On Bullets’ failure to score a single goal in the three matches pre-season matches, Pasuwa told the publication that what his team was lacking were combinations.
“When building up, you start from the back and there is no way we can talk about strikers only, a midfielder can score as well. It’s a combination that we need to rectify when we go back to training.
“Our strikers will get there. We have Anthony Mfune and Maxwell Gasten who are scorers, so it’s not a thing to worry about — we will come out good.”
The Zimbabwean tactician further expressed his delight in having midfielder Mike Mkwate who was a marvel to watch throughout the minutes he played during the bonanza following his return from South Africa a week ago after parting ways with Polokwane City.
Pasuwa admitted that following Chimwemwe Idana’s departure, Bullets needed a ball player, saying: “I think the replacement for Idana is Mike. Idana was a playmaker for us, so Mike [arriving] is a plus sign for us and on the scorers, we still need to find them.
“We had Kajoke and Babatunde who left, so with these guys we are testing — we need one who can be scoring goals for us.”
The defeat on Sunday left Bullets in 4th position with two points as UD Songo were crowned champions after accumulating 7 points while Wanderers, who recorded a 2-1 victory over Nampula in the early Sunday kick-off, finished second with four points.
Songo became the second team from Mozambique to win the pre-season tourney after Nampula, who finished third with two points after winning the competition in its inaugural year in 2019.
The other winners of the competition are Chicken Inn from Zimbabwe, who did not participate this year for an opportunity to defend the title.
The Bonanza was spiced up by new team sponsors, First Capital Bank, who celebrated their landmark K525 million partnership with Nyasa Big Bullets with some glamour launch ahead of the People’s Team’s Blantyre derby against Mighty Wanderers.
The sponsors flew a helicopter branded with FCB and Bullets colours over Chatha market, Kameza roundabout, Ndirande ground, Ndirande market, Machinjiri, Pa Kachere, Chinyonga, Chitawira, Nkolokosa, Chilobwe, Chiwembe, Manje, Mbayani, Blantyre market and back to Ndirande.
The K525 million lucrative sponsorship was unveiled two days prior to the Bonanza FCB Head of Marketing, Twikale Chirwa said they decided to partner Bullets in the deal following the team’s consistent performance in all the local competitions.
He added that they want to associate with the brand in order to help the team to be more stronger and do wonders in the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champions League.
“We believe that this sponsorship will make the team can go to greater heights, not only in Malawi but also in the African continent,” Chirwa said.
Nyasa Big Bullets president, Konrad Burkle described the landmark sponsorship deal as evolution of the Bullets family, which is about the good behaviour of the fans, and how evidence changed at the club.
He said the coming in of FCB is great sign that Bullets has really proved to be a top club on the land and people should expect a lot as this is just a start of good things to come.
“We are very proud of this sponsorship because it will make the team to be on a top level as you know that we are in commercialisation drive — which has also helped our administration to be one of the top-notch going forward.
“It wasn’t easy to reach this far but now we are happy because we’ve started to see some the fruits and let me disclose that we’ll more partners because the club is model now,” Burkle said.—Pictures courtesy of Bullets media