Nyasa Big Bullets reached the CECAFA Kagame Cup 2021 final with a 4-2 penalty shootout win over Tanzania’s Azam FC following a 2-2 semi-final that went into extra time on Wednesday at Azam Complex in Dar es Salaam.
Nickson Nyasulu, who netted an own goal in the second-half to get the hosts level as Bullets led 0-1, converted The People’s Team last spotkick to send the Malawian champions through and will face Ugandan side Express FC in the final.
McFallen Mgwira set unmarked Bright Munthali two minutes into the match and the striker netted his first goal of the competition to give Bullets an early lead that boosted The People’s Team’s confidence against Azam at their own backyard.
Munthali had an opportunity to double the lead three minutes later only to see his strike blasted over the bar after being set by Babatunde Adepoju, before Vice-captain Chimwemwe Idana wasted another chance.
The hosts had a chance to get back on level terms when they won a freekick just after the quarter-hour mark outside the penalty box, but goalkeeper Ernest Kakhobwe and his defence did well to keep the ball away from danger, before Babatunde wasted another chance on the other end.
Azam continued piling pressure in the visitors as they kept looking for an equalizer but Bullets hang on to their slender lead and went into recess 0-1 in favour of the Peter Mponda led side.
The home side continued from where they had stopped in the first-half and won a number of freekicks in Bullets half, however they failed to put the setpieces into good use.
Chiukepo Msowoya came close and should have extended Bullets’ lead in the 64th minute, but the forward’s header ended over the crossbar, before he was substituted alongside Babatunde and injured Sankhani Mkandawire for Hassan Kajoke, Precious Phiri and Miracle Gabeya.
Bullets conceded immediately after making the substitutions when Nyasulu deflected Paul Peter’s square-ball past his own ‘keeper to get the hosts back in the game.
Azam took a lead six minutes later through Oscar Masai who connected home Idd Kipagwire’s cross from the right giving Kakhobwe no chance to stop that powerful header from close range.
Munthali got a double in the 73rd minute when he slotted home Precious Phiri’s through-ball following a great move led by Idana, 2-2, and after 90 minutes the match went into extra time, but chances were converted to force the game into penalties.
Yamikani Fodya, Kajoke, Chimango Kayira and Nyasulu converted Bullets’ spotkicks and Gabeya had his penalty saved by goalkeeper Benedict Haule, while the hosts scored their only spotkicks through Mwaikenda and Tepsie Evance as Gadafi Said and Abdulrazak Hamza missed.