Nyasa Big Bullets made an underwhelming start to the TNM Super League 2020-21 season and could only manage a 0-0 draw against Blue Eagles at Kamuzu Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The defending champions looked rusty and particularly toothless upfront, barely creating any chances of note, especially in the first half as Zicco Mkanda found little support in Chimwemwe Idana and Mike Mwate.
The hosts went into the match without several key players, notably Chimango Kayira, Chiukepo Msowoya, Righteous Banda, Patrick Phiri and Dalitso Sailesi due to injuries and Peter Banda who was attending his grandfather’s burial as the game started.
The visitors looked more likely to score in the opening minutes but Micium Mhone’s shot went over the crossbar outside the penalty box.
Eagles were pressing harder for the opening goal and they almost scored when Miracle Gabeya was caught off-guard in the line of duty, however Gad Chirwa’s shot was saved by Ernest Kakhobwe who was very outstanding for The People’s Team.
The home side suffered a blow just before the half hour mark when lead striker Mkanda was stretched off due to an injury and was replaced by Bright Munthali.
At the other end, Maxwell Salambula forced Kakhobwe into producing another fantastic save when he outsmarted Gabeya before making a shot which the shot stopper parried away for a corner, which the hosts easily cleared away through Nickson Nyasalu.
Lively winger Mhone was inches away from breaking the deadlock for the visitors but his shot was blocked by Gomezgani Chirwa for another corner.
The police side thought they had scored through John Junior Malidadi, but referee Evidence Kananji blew his whistle for an infringement on Kakhobwe.
Towards the end of the half, Kajoke missed Bullets’ best chance when he was found unmarked in the box only to fail to connect the ball into an empty net.
Mcfallen Mgwira made a brilliant run into the box only to lose his footing as he dribbled past Onesmo Mbendera and later saw his low drive cross well blocked by the visitors.
In the second half, Eagles brought in Chisomo Chilasa and Stuart Mbunge for Mhone and Salambura.
It was Bullets who were attacking from all cylinders and they almost scored on 51st minute when Mkwate forced his way into the visitors’ half to find him on the edge of the box, but the attacker saw his shot well blocked by Osward Maonga for a corner.
Bullets kept on pushing for a goal, this time around, Mgwira forcing John Soko into making a brilliant save but there was nobody from the hosts to finish the ball into the net.
On 68th minute, Bullets coach Kalisto Pasuwa brought in Henry Kabichi and Nelson Kangunje for Mkwate and Aziz Mwakifuna, while Eagles introduced Grant Zakumbuyo and Chifuniro Mpinganjira for Malidadi and Chirwa.
Bullets kept pressing, but Blue Eagles always gave the sensation of danger on the break through Gilbert Chirwa in the middle of the pack.
On 78th minute, Mgwira’s long ball to Precious Sambani found Kangunje unmarked but the midfielder lost his touch to send his shot wide off Soko’s goal.
The last chance of the match fell to Eagles’ Mpinganjira when advancing Kakhobwe collided with Gabeya to leave the goal wide open, but the forward, who should have volleyed, took his time before sliding his shot inches away from the goal posts and after 90 minutes of play, goalless it ended.
This means the two teams have shared one point each in the opening weekend of the 2020/21 Super League season.
Bullets will be away to Karonga and Savenda Chitipa United next weekend.