Nyasa Big Bullets Youth are runners up in the Manchester Motor Mechanical Center Under-20 Cup after losing 4-3 on penalties to Ndirande Stars following a 1-1 draw in regulation time at Kamuzu Stadium on Monday afternoon.
No major changes were made to Autley Kalulu’s side, but a nervous start to the match saw his boys conceding just after two minutes when Kondwani Kucheza made a simple finish inside the 18-yard box after he received a pass from Justice Zulu.
Bullets Youth were under pressure and failed to withstand the heat from Zulu, Yamikani Namondwe and Kucheza, but the attacking trio lacked finishing composure as they twice missed clear cut chances inside the first 15 minutes of the match.
Bullets had their first chance at goal in the 18th minute when goalkeeper Hamid Msopa failed to clear a long ball from Gift Jossam and landed to Blessings Mofolo, who produced a powerful header only to see the ball going wide off the hosts’ goal.
Moments later, Jossam had his long range effort going over the crossbar as Bullets pressed for the equalizer.
But the hosts almost doubled their lead in the 38th minute through Zulu, who had his eyes on goal before a thunderous shot which was well saved by Dankeen Kumimba.
In the second half, Kalulu made a triple substitution when he brought in Kumbukani Manto, Innongano Kamanga and Matamando Matchipisa for Jali Daudi, Mofolo and Daniel Nyambose to try to improve his attacking options in search for an equalizer, but Moses Gunde’s led defence was just too difficult to open up for the visitors.
But the moment that the junior Bullets were waiting for arrived in the 61st minute when Matchipisa scored a beauty after he received a pass from Manto following a move from Happy Nkhoma to make it 1-1.
This goal was a wakeup call to the hosts, who then decided to make a double change in Evalisto Wadabwa and Cosmas Kulapani for Kucheza and Mtalimanja.
In the 67th minute, Chifundo Mbofana came in for Hellings Mhango, who was not having a good day after netting a brace in the semi-finals.
With less than seven minutes to play, Ndirande Stars had a very good opportunity to restore their lead and possibly finish off the game in regulation time when Yamikani Namondwe used his pace to outsmart Nabil Kazembe before shooting the ball at goal, but Kumimba was equal to the task with a very brilliant save which kept the visitors into the game.
This save proved to be very important as Bullets launched a stunning counter-attack through Massford, who delivered a million dollar pass into the box to Jossam, unfortunately the midfielder saw his attempt skyrocketing into the sky in unbelievable circumstances and was left to regret that chance as the game was decided on penalties from which Bullets Youth missed two spot kicks to lose 4-3.
Matamando Matchipisa, Hadji James and Jossam all converted their penalties for Bullets Youth but Mphepo and Manto saw their penalties saved by Msopa.
Ndirande Stars converted their penalties through Thoko Mpinde, Richard Luciano, Zulu and Cosmas Kulapani.