Nyasa Big Bullets suffered a 0-1 defeat to Chicken Inn in the second installment of the Energem International Bonanza at Kamuzu Stadium on Saturday.
Bullets fans were not quite gifted the bloodbath conjured up last time these two sides met in the same tournament last season with the hosts winning 2-1 over the Zimbabwean side.
Kalisto Pasuwa made ten changes to his side that recorded a 1-0 victory over Mozambican UD Songo on Friday, maintaining Aziz Mwakifuna in the central midfield.
The Zimbabwean handed first starts to centre-back Godwin Goliat as well as Misheck Seleman and Zicco Mkanda, who are being assessed by The People’s Team to determine their chances of securing deals ahead of the 2020 season.
McFallen Mgwira also returned to the starting eleven for the first time after recovering from his long term injury which kept him out of action for the most part of the 2019 season.
The visitors were the first to create an early goal scoring opportunity when Leroy Ndlovu swindled a low cross drive into the box for Brian Muza to make a simple finish, but his effort went off the goal post.
Moments later, Seleman was brought down by defender Guide Goddard for a freekick closer to the penalty box from which Mwakifuna curled a brilliant effort only to miss the goal with an inch.
At the other end, Richard Chimbamba produced a fantastic save to deny Muza from scoring when the Bullets’ defence was caught napping in the line of duty.
The visitors should have opened the scoreline with less than five minutes to play when Chimbamba tumbled in an aerial combat, gifting the ball to Cliff Dzingati, who was just unfortunate as his volley missed the net with an inch.
There was late drama towards the end of the half as the visitors twice came closer to scoring only to be denied by Goliat and Nyasulu who were very solid at the back for The People’s Team.
In the second half, the visitors wasted no time to find the back of the net through a stunning counter-attack down the right flank of the northern goal.
Nyasulu was overpowered by Nicole Mutatiwa who found himself one on one with Chimbamba before slotting the ball into the net in the 56th minute, 1-0.
The visitors were dominating in the middle of the park, forcing Mwakifuna to drop further into the pecking order to assist at the back as Chicken Inn pressed higher in search for more goals.
Sensing danger, Pasuwa brought in Nelson Kangunje and Luke Chima for Seleman and Ben Manyozo, while the visitors also made a change, introducing George Majika for Clemence Matawu.
Chima had his first shot at goal seconds after coming in, but Pride Zendera was equal to the task.
Chicken Inn made two more changes in Sipho Ndlovu and Malvin Gaki for the goal scorer Mutatiwa and Leroy Ndlovu as they tried to keep on pressing for more goals.
Mkanda saw his header from a corner kick swaying with venom but it was too much as it went over the crossbar.
That was his last involvement in the match as he was taken out for Mike Mkwate while Righteous Banda paved the way for Precious Phiri.
Phiri almost levelled the scoreline, but the winger opted to shoot instead of passing the ball into the box for his colleagues to finish.
Despite pushing forward for an equalizer, the visitors stood firm to register their second win in a row after defeating Be Forward Wanderers on Friday by the same goal margin and eventually regained their top position with six points ahead of their final game against UD Songo on Sunday.
As for the hosts, the defeat leaves them third in the standings with three points ahead of their final match against rivals Wanderers on Sunday afternoon.
Despite the defeat, Pasuwa believes that his boys were impressive on the day.
“I am very impressed with the performance of the boys. These are some of the boys who haven’t been playing last year and we wanted to give them a run so that we can see whether they can fit in well with the system of the team and three quarters of the players did quite well,” explained the coach after the match.
He was however quick to admit that his charges were not offensive throughout the match.
“In terms of being offensive, we didn’t do much because we were too much deep and we didn’t attack but this is a learning process and we have learnt something out of this match,” he said.
Earlier on, UD Songo recorded a 2-nil victory over Wanderers to move second into the standings.
The two visiting teams will face off each other on the final day of the competition.