Anthony Mfune came off the bench to score the winning goal as Nyasa Big Bullets started their TNM Super League title defence with a 2-1 victory over cross-town rivals Mighty Wanderers in the Blantyre derby at Kamuzu Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Chimwemwe Idana had put Kalisto Pasuwa’s men in front in the 16th minute before Vincent Nyangulu was awarded a controversial goal that put the Nomads level in the 78th minute.
Mfune was the hero of the afternoon as he bagged his first league goal for The People’s Team a minute after coming off the bench to help Bullets collect their first three points of the 2022 campaign.
Pasuwa made several changes to the side that played in the Pamtsetse Top Four Bonanza, with Chimwemwe Idana, Henry Kabichi and Gomezgani Chirwa all making it in the first eleven.
Bullets first counter-attack saw Misheck Seleman being brought down by Peter Cholopi inside the penalty box, but center referee Alfred Kaphantengo decided it was a foul against the winger and awarded the visitors a free kick.
Idana broke the deadlock in brilliant fashion in the 16th minute when he released a powerful drive outside the penalty box to connect Henry Kabichi’s well-taken corner kick and beat Pilirani Mapila in goal for the Lali Lubani boys.
Bullets continued to play a possession game with Seleman, Precious Sambani and Babatunde Adepoju exchanging passes to set through Lanjesi Nkhoma, who saw his shot well blocked by Miracle Gabeya minutes later.
Adepoju came close to doubling the lead, running into the Nomads box but his final touch let him down, allowing Wanderers to defend well from dangerous situations.
In the 28th minute, Vitumbiko Kumwenda made his way into the penalty box but his shot was well saved by Richard Chimbamba.
Towards the end of the first half, Wanderers regained possession and created spaces, but Kesten Simbi and Hadji Wali were too stubborn at the back to keep The People’s Team into the game.
After the recess, Eddington Ng’onamo brought in Isaac Kaliyati and Wisdom Mpinganjira for Yamikani Chester and Kumwenda to try to improve their attacking options especially from the wings where Chirwa and Sambani completely closed down the Nomads.
Indeed, Wanderers dominated play as Bullets retrieved in their half, ending up inviting pressure from the opponents.
The Nomads were becoming more dangerous by each passing minute but they weren’t able to unlock Bullets’ defence which kept on clearing all the dangerous balls away to safety.
Sensing danger, Pasuwa brought in Mcfallen Mgwira and Ernest Petro for Blessings Mpokera and Seleman to close all the spaces that were created by Wanderers.
Despite Wanderers dominating for more second half minutes, it was Bullets who came close to adding their second goal, but Babatunde was judged to have scored from an offside position.
In the 75th minute, Idana produced a million dollar pass to Sambani who made a good run into the 18-yard box and he found himself in a one-on-one situation with Mapira, but the left-back’s weaker volley was easily saved by the advancing shot-stopper.
This miss was costly and Bullets paid dearly in the 78th minute when Nyangulu pounced on a loose ball from Kaliyati’s corner kick to pull the Nomads level. It was a controversial goal as the ball seemingly did not cross the line when Idana cleared it away, 1-1.
The goal was all what the Nomads were looking for and they really upped their game but they kept firing wide to the relief of Pasuwa’s side.
In the 81st minute, Mfune came on for Lanjesi Nkhoma and without wasting time, he restored Bullets’ lead in brilliant fashion, with his first touch 80 seconds after being introduced.
A long ball from Sambani to Mgwira found Mfune in the attacking zone and the forward brilliantly controlled the ball before producing a super finish, 2-1.
It was now Bullets’ turn to control possession, kill time and frustrate their opponents, who, despite pushing for an equalizer, were denied by Simbi’s led defence.
In the 88th minute, Mfune was brought down by Gabeya but once again, Kaphantengo waved play on, a decision which triggered massive reaction from the home team.
Three minutes were added to the clock and Bullets held on to collect maximum points on the opening day of the 2022 TNM Super League season.
Other TNM Super League Results:
Karonga United 1-3 Kamuzu Barracks
Ekwendeni Hammers 2-0 TN Stars