Nyasa Big Bullets cruised to a 3-0 win over Mzuzu Warriors in the TNM Super League at Kamuzu Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
A brace from striker Zicco Mkanda and a goal from wingback Precious Sambani in the first half gave Kalisto Pasuwa’s side a deserved win in The People’s Team’s eighth league game this season.
Pasuwa handed John Lanjesi his first start of the season following his recovery from an injury he sustained last season. The skipper played alongside debutant 19-year-old Blessings Mpokera – coming from Bullets Reserve – and Sankhani Mkandawire at the back.
Bullets’ 3-4-3 formation saw Pasuwa pushing wingbacks Yamikani Fodya and Sambani on the left and right wings of the midfield to play alongside Chimwemwe Idana and Ernest Petro while Mkanda led the front-three that had Meshack Seleman and MacFallen Mgwira operation on the left and right flanks of attack.
The home team dictated the terms as early as the first minute when Mgwira’s long range volley was brilliantly saved by the visitors’ goalkeeper Pilirani Mapira for a corner.
At the other end, Richard Chimbamba was called into action in the 11th minute after he produced a save from Steven Madimba’s freekick.
The visitors made a quick change, bringing on board Lackson Sangano for Brian Mhone.
Bullets were pressing for an opener and almost found the back of the net in the 24th minute when Mgwira’s pass in the six-yard box found Ernest Petro unmarked, but the midfielder fired wide off Mapira’s goal post when he only needed a tap in to put the ball into the net.
However, the visitors’ resilience came to an end in the 30th minute when a cross from Mgwira was calmly controlled by Petro who fed Mkanda to make simple finish and give Bulletsd a lea.
Mkanda had another goal disallowed for offside in the 34th minute from yet another pass from Mgwira, who was causing havoc to the visiting side on the right.
The People’s Team were not yet done as they doubled the lead in the 36th minute through Mkanda, who headed past Mapira from another assist from Mgwira, 2-0.
As Bullets were still celebrating, it was 3-0 in the 37th minute following Seleman’s brilliant work from the left flank that saw the attacker deliver a low cross into the box to find Sambani who wasted no time but smashed the ball past defenseless Mapira to make it 3-0 in a space of seven minutes after the half-hour mark.
Towards the end of the half, Bullets were awarded a freekick on the edge of the box following a foul on Seleman but Mgwira’s shot just missed the upright with an inch.
In the second half, Bullets seemed to have slowed down, with the key battle in the middle of the field.
The visitors made two changes in the name of Sheltin Banda and Dan Siwale, who came in for Precious Washari and Elia Munthali.
The first attempt at goal in the half came from Taniel Mhango, who unleashed a powerful shot which was blocked by Mkandawire for a corner.
The second half lacked firepower, with the visitors pushing for a goal to reduce the arrears but they couldn’t unlock the hosts’ defence which defended with everything to protect Richard Chimbamba in between Bullets’ posts.
In the 64th minute, Gift Kasambara missed an opportunity when his free header was tipped over the cross bar by Chimbamba for a corner.
The People’s Team made their first two changes in the 65th minute when Chiukepo Msowoya and another debutant Lanjesi Nkhoma came on for Mkanda and Seleman.
Bullets created their first clear chance in the final half when Idana and Petro exchanged passes to play through Mgwira who blasted his effort over the cross bar.
Some of Bullets’ misses were so disappointing that they tested the patience of assistant coach Peter Mponda, who shouted from the technical area in utter frustration.
At one stage in the half, Msowoya and Nkhoma found themselves inside the box but the duo dilly-dallied with short passes in front of Mzuzu Warriors defenders before they were dispossessed, when taking responsibility with a shot seemed a better option.
Miracle Gabeya and Yamikani Fodya came on to replace Sambani and Lanjesi whilst on the other side of the technical area Collen Nkhulambe replaced Kasambara.
Chimbamba almost conceded an own goal when his directed pass to Mpokera passed through his goal line before going out for a corner from which the hosts were able to clear.
Final Bullets substitute came in the 73rd minute when Chimango Kayira replaced Petro, who picked an injury.
It was now the turn of Nkhoma to add spice to his Bullets debut with a goal, but the youngster, who has been promoted from the reserve side, had his shot well saved by Mapira in the 83rd minute for a corner.
Mapira could not continue as he sustained an injury after he collided with Msowoya and he was replaced by a field player Nkhulambe as Mzuzu Warriors had already run out of substitutes.
In the additional minute, Msowoya should have registered his name on the scoresheet, but his effort inside the six-yard area went over the crossbar in unbelievable circumstances and in the end, Bullets collected maximum points to move to seventh position with one more game to play against the number one team Silver Strikers, who have 19 points from nine games.
Bullets head coach had this to say after the final whistle: “It was a game where we had so many chances in the first half when we were able to break them in all segments to have goals coming. It took us long to open the scoring after attacking from all phases.
“Our friends played a game yesterday and the recovery part of it wasn’t enough and we wanted to use that to our advantage as part of our plans and it worked.”
The tactician said he was also impressed by his skipper, Lanjesi’s performance after such a lengthy period on the sidelines.
“So far so good. Last time he played with less than twenty minutes to go but today, we gave him 64 minutes and we are very hopeful that we will be able to give him more minutes in the coming matches,” said Pasuwa.
The defending champions will play another game on Monday against Mighty Tigers at Chiwembe Stadium.