Nyasa Big Bullets Reserves booked a spot in the final of the Aubrey Dimba Trophy following a 2-1 over Kamuzu Barracks Youth at Aubrey Dimba Ground in Mchinji on Sunday afternoon.
Without some key players to his starting XI, coach Enos Chatama made changes especially in the midfield where Lyton Chinong’one and Chimwemwe Yassin all started in the absence of Stanley Billiat and Innocent Msowoya.
To make matters worse, defender White Kitsen, who is a regular, was dropped in the eleventh hour after he got sick.
KB Youth started brightly through John Banda, Steven Unyolo and Abudu Saidi, but surprisingly they had no shot at goal as they struggled to break Kesten Simbi’s led defence.
In the 8th minute, Patrick Mwaungulu nearly scored direct from a well taken corner kick, but the Bullets Reserves playmaker was denied by Joshua Saka in goals for the military side.
In the 15th minute, a brilliant play from Mwaungulu on the right set up Chikumbutso Salima, who did everything to put the ball into the back of the net but was denied from close range by the ‘keeper on the near-post, to concede a corner, which had no impact as the visitors cleared the danger away from their territory.
Salima had another chance just after the half-hour mark when he was found unmarked in the 18-yard box by Yassin, but the forward saw his goal-bound shot blocked for a corner kick by Victor Shema.
However, Emmanuel Savieli finally broke the deadlock in the 31st minute when Salima dribbled past Tinkhane Nyirenda before a brilliant pass into the box, which was well connected into the net by Savieli to give the hosts a deserved 1-0 lead.
Three minutes, it was 2-0.
A cross from Mwaungulu caught Saka and his defence napping in the line of duty when he fumbled the ball and landed in the path of Salima, who scored from a bicycle kick to make it 2-0 and that was all for the first period.
In the second half, Kamuzu Barracks Youth was a better side and pressed for goals, but Simbi, Yamikani Mologeni and Sydney Chabulika’s back three stood firm to protect Rahaman John, who was in goal for Bullets Reserves.
In the 51st minute, injured Frank Willard was replaced by Franklin Mlimanjala, whilst Aaron Mikonje and Stanley Chirwa replaced Elias Chiwaula and Gerald Chingana for KB Youth.
A direct freekick in the 60th minute from Unyolo went straight to Julius, who was steady and ready for the young Bullets.
Chatama, who is eyeing a fourth silverware this season, made another change in the 61st minute when he brought on Yankho Singo for Yassin to try to retake the midfield, which was now in the hands of the visitors.
The military side replaced Saidi with Nelson Muleme in the 72nd minute.
Soon after coming in, Muleme almost reduced the arrears for the military side when he received a dangerous cross from Unyolo, but his little touch sent the ball over the cross bar for a goal kick.
At the other end, Mwaungulu failed to score in a one on one situation when he was found unmarked in the six-yard box by Mlimanjira, but the winger saw his shot going wide in unbelievable circumstances.
Mwaungulu was forced to regret as his opponents pulled one back in the 83rd minute through Banda, who scored from a free kick following a handball incident, 2-1.
The goal gave KB Youth some relief and hope to push for an equalizer, but Bullets defence stood firm to frustrate the central region side.
With four minutes added to the clock, Salima had an opportunity to seal the victory when he made his way into the box before dribbling past Shema, but his shot to the near post was well saved by Saka.
Despite tense final minutes, the Bullets Reserves held on to progress to the final where they will face Silver Strikers Reserves on 2nd January 2022.
Speaking after the final whistle, Chatama said his players made things difficult for themselves with the missed chances especially in the first half, but he was quick to pay homage to his opponents for giving his team a tough run for their money.
“It’s good that we have progressed to the final although we made things very difficult for ourselves after missing those clear cut chances, but we will go back to rectify some of the problems we encountered in this match,” he said.
On playing Silver Strikers Reserves, Chatama said: “We will approach the game just like any other game and I believe it will be a very good game.”
To reach this far, Bullets Reserves put to the sword on St. Gabriel’s Medicals 2-1 before beating Extreme FC 1-0 in the quarter-finals.