Nyasa Big Bullets have given themselves a big shot at winning the 2020/21 TNM Super League title following a 0-3 victory over Kamuzu Barracks away at Civo Stadium in Lilongwe on Saturday afternoon.
The People’s Team’s title hopes got a big boost after second-placed Silver Strikers suffered a 2-0 defeat at Moyale Barracks in Mzuzu.
Kalisto Pasuwa’s men will only need a draw against Karonga United in their final game of the season even if Silver and third-placed Mighty Wanderers win their remaining fixtures.
The Central Bankers will host Ekwendeni Hammers at home while the Nomads face Blue Eagles at Kamuzu Stadium on Sunday before hosting Moyale Barracks in their final match.
In a must-win tie on Saturday, Bullets bagged the much-needed goal through Man of the Match Meshack Seleman, substitute Hassan Kajoke and vice-captain Chimwemwe Idana to take their tally at the top of the standings to 59 points.
Pasuwa made five changes to the side that lost to Mighty Wanderers last Sunday, with Miracle Gabeya, Eric Kaonga, Ben Manyozo and Seleman all starting, replacing Sankhani Mkandawire, Yamikani Fodya, Chimango Kayira, Lanjesi Nkhoma and Hassan Kajoke.
The match started with Bullets looking to win to restore their pride and cement their position at the top with Silver and Wanderers all piling more pressure on The People’s Team.
However, Kamuzu Barracks were not going to allow that, even though they were not in the title contention but a top eight slot was in their site as it was their final match of the season.
The first clear cut chances fell to Babatunde Adepoju who, twice, fired over the cross bar inside the penalty box to the disappointment of the defending champions, who were desperate for an early goal.
In the 9th minute, Seleman was found unmarked by Idana in the penalty box, but the winger blasted his effort over the cross bar.
Babatunde was then found in a one on one situation in the 18th minute, however the forward slipped and lost the ball to Sam Chibvunde, who made a clearance.
Bullets were able to find the back of the net in the 21st minute in a brilliant fashion through Selemani who scored his first goal for The People’s Team after being set by Idana.
A brilliant move from the Bullets vice-captain outnumbered the soldiers’ defence before he released Seleman, who broke free before releasing a powerful shot past Lehman Nthala, 0-1.
Moments later, Babatunde dispossessed Sam Gunde inside Kamuzu Barracks’ half and he did everything right but his volley just missed Nthala’s goal mouth with an inch.
At the other end, Richard Chimbamba was called into action for the first time in the 30th minute when Nickson Nyasulu failed to clear a long ball, allowing Zeliat Nkhoma to release a thunderous shot which was fumbled by the Bullets ‘keeper, but Francisco Kamdzeka failed to capitalize as attempt went wide.
The two teams went into recess with Bullets having a slender lead.
At half-time, Pasuwa brought on Kajoke and Kayira for Babatunde and Manyozo to try to improve in the midfield and increase attacking options.
Kajoke made an imminent impact with a beautiful goal in the 51st minute.
A powerful strike from Idana was fumbled by Nthala and landed in the path of Kajoke, who composed himself very well inside the box before smashing the ball top of the roof to make it 0-2.
Bullets were coming wave after wave and Seleman should have doubled his tally in the 58th minute but his shot went over the cross bar.
Sensing danger, Kamuzu Barracks brought in Kelvin Hanganda and Redson Nkhoma for Gregory Nachipo and Chimwemwe Chisambi.
Despite the changes, the hosts were struggling to create chances in what was proving to be a tight game for them as Nyasulu’s led defence proved too difficult to unlock.
The visitors were dealt with a massive blow in the 71st minute when Kajoke was stretchered off due to an injury and he was replaced by Zicco Mkanda whilst Stanley Biliat came on for Msowoya.
Bullets were dominating play with their beautiful style of play and they nearly scored another goal in the 75th minute when Mkanda’s free kick found Biliat, but the winger failed to capitalize by sending his shot wide off Nthala’s goal posts.
Seleman was causing havoc on the left flank and almost grabbed his second of the day with a brilliant shot outside the penalty box, but Nthala was equal to the task with a brilliant save for a corner that had no impact as Chibvunde made a clearance.
Bullets sealed off the win in a brilliant fashion in the 86th minutes through Idana.
The captain of the day didn’t even need more time to put the ball into the net, his instincts ordering him to dribble past three defenders and go for the kill, assuring him it was worth the try from his position and propelling him to shoot from his angle before beating Nthala to the bottom corner, 0-3.
In the last minutes of the match, Anthony Mfune replaced Seleman, but Kayira’s injury came at a time when Bullets had already finished their substitutions for the day.
At the end of 90 minutes Bullets stood firm to bag maximum points in one of the most important victories of the season.