Nyasa Big Bullets suffered the first defeat of the 2020/21 TNM Super League season after succumbing to a 0-1 loss away to Karonga United on Saturday afternoon.
The People’s Team made two changes to the side that drew 0-0 against Blue Eagles last weekend, handing Chiukepo Msowoya and Precious Phiri their first starts this season as Mike Mkwate and Hassan Kajoke dropped to the bench.
It was another lackluster performance from the defending champions, who were struggling to settle down on a bumpy playing field at Karonga Stadium.
It only took three minutes for the hosts to create their first chance of the match when Miracle Gabeya brought down Victor Lungu inside the penalty box for the referee to award them a penalty. Sherrif Shamama stepped up only to send his effort wide.
At the other end, McFallen Mgwira made his way into the box to find Gomezgani Chirwa unmarked but the right back shot wide off Yona Milanzi’s goal area.
Bullets should have found the back of the net in the 18th minute when Phiri delivered a masterclass cross into the box to find Msowoya who could only afford to head over the cross bar.
As Bullets missed their clear cut goal scoring chances, Karonga utilized and found the opener in the 28th minute through Clement Nyondo, who sent a volley from the blind spot after Shamama’s switch from the right found him unmarked and his strike hit Gabeya for the ball to change direction into Ernest Kakhobwe’s net.
In the 38th minute, Bullets wasted another opportunity from a free kick when Msowoya curled his effort over the crossbar for a goal kick.
In the second half, Pasuwa made two changes by introducing Ben Manyozo and Peter Banda for Gabeya and Phiri.
The visitors enjoyed several chances in the half, with Mkanda’s header missing the upright with just an inch from Banda’s corner kick in the 49th minute.
Bright Munthali was then introduced for Msowoya as Bullets increased their firing artillery in search for an equalizer, however the hosts’ Hygiene Mwendepeka led defence proved too difficult to break.
Kakhobwe produced a fantastic save to deny Nyondo from scoring a brace when he parried his volley for a corner which the visitors cleared.
Bullets may have been enjoying most of the ball, but Karonga United did provide a sporadic threat through Nyondo and Shamama, and the visitors needed to remain sharp at the back.
Bullets made a tactical switch in the 68th minute, putting on Hassan Kajoke and Pilirani Zonda in place of Mkanda and Mgwira, switching Chirwa as the right winger to try increase the attack.
This almost paid off in the 71st minute when Zonda and Chirwa combined well to release Kajoke whose effort missed Yona’s goal with an inch.
Just over 10 minutes later, Banda’s well taken freekick on the edge of the penalty box almost went in but missed the upright for a goal kick.
In the 88th minute, Bullets’ closest chance in the half fell to Munthali who did everything right, but his finishing let him down as he shot straight at Yona in an unbelievable circumstances and that was all for the day as Bullets lost their first game of the season to Karonga United.
The People’s Team will play Chitipa United at the same venue on Sunday afternoon.
The defeat means Bullets has one point from two league matches.