Bullets win Blantyre derby thriller to finish 2nd in Energem Bonanza

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Nyasa Big Bullets produced a magnificent performance against rivals Be Forward Wanderers to record a 4-3 victory on the final day of the Energem International Bonanza at Kamuzu Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

The People’s Team finished second in the standings of the three-day international tournament, which also featured champions Chicken Inn from Zimbabwe as well as Mozambican side UD Songo and BE Forward Wanderers.

Bullets coach Kalisto Pasuwa made nine changes to the side that lost 1-0 to Chicken Inn on Saturday, maintaining Ben Manyozo and Nickson Nyasulu in the starting eleven, while Wanderers made only few changes to the side that lost 2-0 to UD Songo the previous day.

The Nomads were the first to find the back of the net inside the opening two minutes of the match when a cross from Felix Zulu found Vincent Nyangulu unmarked in the box to head past defenseless Rabson Chiyenda in between Bullets goal posts.

However, the Nomads’ celebrations were cut short just a minute later when Bright Munthali pulled level from Gomezgani Chirwa’s low drive into the box, beating William Thole who could have done nothing to prevent the ball from hitting the back of the net, 1-1.

Wanderers had a problem in defence to solve as they struggled to contain Bullets’ aggressive attack in Mike Mkwate, Ernest Petro and Munthali who were causing a lot of havoc at the back.

In the 18th minute, Bullets were in front courtesy of Mkwate.

A brilliant individual performance from Petro released Munthali to the left flank on the southern goal and the striker wasted no time to feed Luke Chima whose attempt hit the woodwork only to land on the foot of Mkwate, who just needed a simple tap in to give Bullets a deserving lead, 2-1.

The hosts were applying pressure to win setpieces, then seemingly winning almost everything in the air ahead of Wanderers’ makeshift central defense duo of Peter Cholopi and Lucky Malata.

The Nomads were denied a clear cut opportunity when Rabson Richard dribbled past Chirwa before sending a low cross drive into the box, which was tumbled by Chiyenda only to be wasted by Nyangulu in an unbelievable circumstances.

With three minutes to play, Bullets increased their lead in dramatic fashion as Petro’s long range drive outside the penalty box forced Thole to stumble before losing the ball into the back of the net, 3-1.

After the break, both teams made four changes, with Bullets introducing Peter Banda,  Chimwemwe Idana, Hassan Kajoke and Chimango Kayira for Petro, Manyozo, Chima and Henry Kabichi.

Minutes later Wanderers also brought in Ted Sumani, Lughano Kayira, Juma Yatina and Francis Mkonda for Malata, Mathews Sibale, Simeone Singa and Francis Mulimbika.

Wanderers started brightly and they almost reduced the arrears in the 48th minute when Rabson made his way into the box before finding Nyangulu who could only manage to send his effort wide off Chiyenda’s goal posts.

Bullets then made things very difficult for Wanderers in the 71st minute when Kayira’s ball found Kajoke who was quick to volley past the advanced Thole into the back of the net, 4-1.

Thole was then replaced by Chipuwa moments later.

Wanderers responded very quickly through Cholopi who netted from a corner to reduce the arrears with less than 19 minutes to play on the clock.

This forced the two coaches to make changes as Pasuwa brought in Chiukepo Msowoya for Munthali while Babatunde Adepoju came in for Felix Zulu.

The two goal lead seemed to have unnerved Bullets who were now playing under massive pressure as Wanderers kept on pushing for goals.

The visitors were running rampant.

On 77th minute, Rabson was at it again when he dribbled past Chirwa before making a million dollar pass into the box to find Nyangulu on the edge of the six-yard box, and the forward made no mistake by curling the ball past Chiyenda into the far post, 4-3.

Sensing danger, Pasuwa brought in Pilirani Zonda for Mkwate and this paid dividends as Wanderers’ pace was slowed down as Chirwa moved up to the right wing to be replaced by Zonda in right back.

Bullets almost scored their fifth goal when Msowoya made his way into the edge of the box and forced Chipuwa into making a fantastic save for a corner.

Though the visitors tried their level best to level the scoreline, Bullets stood firm to claim a thrilling 4-3 victory over their bitter rivals, who finished the tournament bottom without registering any victory.

Earlier on, Chicken Inn claimed a 2-0 victory over UD Songo to take their tally to 9 points.

The victory saw the Zimbabwean side grabbing the trophy after winning all three games, while UD Songo finished third with three points.

The tournament, which started on Friday, was organised as part of the pre-season training for Bullets ahead of the 2020 season that begins mid this month.

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