Nyasa Big Bullets were out for their first pre-season minutes on Thursday afternoon at Mpira Stadium in Chiwembe where they suffered a 2-1 defeat to rookies Sable Farming.
Kalisto Pasuwa, who is rebuilding the team after releasing eleven players and brought in a number of youngsters from Bullets Reserves, needed the friendly encounter not only for fitness but also to test his new combinations.
New signings Hadji Wali and Mphatso Magaleta were handed starts in Bullets colours, whilst former Karonga United and Red Lions right-back, Pilirani Thulu, who is undergoing assessment, was also handed an opportunity to showcase his capacity.
Rabson Chiyenda was back in between the sticks and in the starting XI after not getting more game time last season.
Bullets started on the front foot while Sable Farming took time to settle and Pasuwa’s men created their first opportunity in the 8th minute when Thulu delivered a pass into the box, but Anthony Mfune’s shot was blocked by former Bullets Reserves holding midfielder Innocent Msowoya.
Bullets were able to break the deadlock two minutes before the half-hour mark when the visitors handled McFallen Mgwira’s ball inside the six yard box for the referee to award the hosts a spotkick.
Yamikani Fodya stepped up to slot the ball past Christopher Mikuwa in goals for the Chiradzulu-based side.
But the lead only lasted for nine minutes as Sable Farming equalized through Tinana Malekano, who made a simple finish from a rebound after Chiyenda’s save, 1-1.
And on the stroke of half time, the visitors pounced on Chiyenda again in dramatic fashion after Fodya lost possession in the 18-yard box to Christopher Gototo, who wasted no time but put the ball into the net, 1-2.
In the second half, Sable were more of defensive than attacking and that made things very difficult for Pasuwa’s men to unlock their defense.
Bullets came close when Ernest Petro combined well with Magaleta in midfield to release Mgwira, who blasted his effort over the crossbar.
At the other end, Chiyenda was forced to come out of his line to clear a very dangerous ball when Nickson Nyasulu made a poor back pass that nearly landed at Gototo.
Patrick Mwaungulu, Stanley Billiat, Kesten Simbi, Clever Mkungula, Lanjesi Nkhoma, Yankho Singo and Blessings Mpokera replaced Fodya, Thulu, Mfune, Magaleta, Fodya, Chiyenda and Hadji Wali as Bullets pressed to find an equalizer.
Mwaungulu made an instant impact when he delivered two quick dangerous crosses into the box but Nkhoma and Billiat were not clinical enough in front of goal.
Moments later, Mikuwa produced a save to deny Petro from scoring when he was set through by Mwaungulu.
In the 68th minute, Nkhoma wasted Bullets’ closest chance when he was found unmarked in the six-yard box but the forward was slow to make a decision, allowing White Kitisen, who is on loan at Sable from Bullets to clear the ball away.
The more Bullets attacked, the more they created a vacuum in defense and they nearly conceded another goal when Kaonga lost the ball to another Bullets Reserves ex-player Franklin Mlimanjala, who fed Happy Kasamba, but the defender saw his effort go wide.
In the 74th minute, Petro’s goal bound effort was deflected to Mikuwa’s direction and the former Mighty Tigers shot stopper was almost beaten in line of defence.
Billiat decided to take things into his own hands in the 85th minute when he dribbled past three defenders before releasing a thunderous shot, which came off the cross bar to the relief of Joseph Malizani’s led technical panel and in the end, Pasuwa’s men tested defeat in their first pre-season match ahead of Saturday’s Charity Shield tie against Silver Strikers at Kamuzu Stadium.
PASUWA’S REACTION TO THE DEFEAT
Pasuwa said he was not concerned with the defeat as he was focusing on fitness levels.
“[It was] a game where we were looking at fitness levels as we wanted the most of the guys to play above 60 minutes and being our first in preparation for the season match, we needed this to test our abilities and our energy levels.
“We conceded goals through a transition and this is something which we will have to work on, but in terms of build up from the back into the midfield we did well. We are building a new side and we need to build different combinations and I am very impressed with how the boys performed,” said the Bullets head coach after the match that attracted a good number of spectators.