Nyasa Big Bullets Reserves have qualified for the quarterfinals of the 2021 ThumbsUp Southern Region Football Association League after beating Bangwe All Stars 1-2 at Kamuzu Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Enos Chatama made three changes to the side that drew 0-0 against Wizards FC on Tuesday by handing first team starts to Chifundo Ngapemba, Chifundo Sapuwa and Frank Willard for David Daud, Emmanuel Saviel and Kesten Simbi, whilst playmaker Patrick Mwaungulu was on the bench after recovering from illness that saw him miss the previous fixture.
The junior Bullets had several chances in the opening 15 minutes of the match, but Ngapemba, who was handed his competitive debut after completing a move from The Boys, was not clinical enough as he failed to convert any of the chances into goals.
However, the forward broke the deadlock in the 29th minute when he made a simple finish following some good work from Innocent Msowoya, 0-1.
The lead only lasted for four minutes when the hosts leveled in the 33rd minute through Amos Tesiwa, who capitalized on a mistake by goalkeeper Rahaman John.
From there, Bullets pressed harder in search for another goal, but Bangwe’s defence, marshalled by Evance Chimpeni, Fanizo Mwansambo, Isaac Chikoti and Geoffrey Biscuit stood firm to frustrate Chatama’s boys.
Towards the end of the half, Chimwemwe Yassin’s brilliance in the middle of the park released Yamikani Mologeni to the right flank, who delivered a low cross into the box only for Ngapemba to fumble the ball over the crossbar.
In the second half, Bullets Reserves were all over the hosts through Alex Tsamba, Yassin, Mologeni and Frank Mulimanjala, but to find the back of the net proved too difficult for the youngsters.
Chatama had to make his first substitution in the 54th minute when he brought in Chikumbutso Salima for Sapuwa.
This change brought more rythm to Bullets, who were now coming wave after wave through the right flank, but Ngapemba and Tsamba were wasteful in front of goals.
Three times in a row, Salima showed why he is one of the game changers when he dribbled past Chikoti to send dangerous balls into the box but none of Bullets Reserves’ strikers were clinical enough to beat Precious Mlotiwa in goals for the Bangwe side.
As the clock was ticking very fast for both teams, Bangwe All Stars brought in Nathan Chisamba, Tee Kay Nickson Nyoni for Andrew Maluwa, James Zuze and Wongani Malalewo to try to add some power upfront.
And indeed, the hosts almost scored when Gift Songa combined well with Tesiwa to find Nyoni who fired straight at John when Bullets Reserves’ defence was caught napping in the line of duty.
Chatama then made a double substitution in the 81st minute when he brought in Mwaungulu and Saviel for Yassin and Ngapemba.
Bullets kept on attacking but they could not unlock the hosts’ defence and surely, they were heading to another draw.
But after 90 minutes of play, the junior team got their winner.
Mulimanjala was fouled just meters away from the penalty box from which Mwaungulu stepped up to bend the ball past Bangwe All Stars’ wall before beating Mlotiwa into the back of the net, 1-2.
This was all the Chatama’s side wanted to move to 15 points from seven games and qualify to the quarterfinals without testing a defeat.
This means Wizards FC and Bullets Reserve from Group A have made it to the knockout stage of the competition, which has used a different format due to the Covid-19 pandemic.