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Match report: Bullets 0-0 Silver (pen 7-6)

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FCB Nyasa Big Bullets have won a record seventh successive Charity Shield after defeating Silver Strikers 7-6 on post-match penalties following a goalless draw at the Bingu National Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

What happened

Head coach Kalisto Pasuwa handed first-time starts to several players, including Zimbabwean defender Colin Mujuru, who signed for the 2023 quadruple winners on Thursday.

Mujuru partnered with Blessings Mpokera in central defence as Yamikani Mologeni and Chrispin Mapemba were deployed on the right and left sides of the back-four that provided cover to our new goalkeeper Innocent Nyasulu.

In midfield, Pasuwa picked Yankho Singo, Chawanangwa Gumbo, Chikumbutso Salima and Precious Phiri, while Maxwell Phodo and Babatunde Adepoju led the attack.

The first opportunity for The People’s Team came in the 7th minute when Salima made his way into Silver’s penalty area before finding Phiri on the edge of the box, but the winger blasted his effort over the crossbar for a goal-kick.

The first 15 minutes of the match saw Bullets dominating possession, but they lacked the cutting edge to finish off the opponents who were sitting back to defend against fearless attackers.

Phodo saw his long-range shot hitting Maxwell Paipi, before another attempt from Babatunde outside the penalty box.

But it was Peter Mponda’s side that won the first corner kick of the day which was well defended by Mpokera.

The Central Bankers had their first realistic opportunity in the 22nd minute through Gift Chunga, who combined well with Duncan Nyoni, but Nyasulu, making his full debut for Bullets after making a move from Mighty Tigers in January, rose to the occasion with a brilliant save.

The Area 47-based side was now in full control of the match through Chikondi Kamanga, Chimwemwe Idana, Chunga and Nyoni, but breaking Mujuru’s led defence proved to be futile as the Bullets’ back-four coordinated well to defend against any threat from Mponda’s men.

Silver’s pressing opened up a window of opportunity for Pasuwa’s side to launch a stunning counter-attack which almost handed them a lead in the 27th minute through Phiri, who was denied by George Chikooka’s excellent save.

Salima was causing havoc to Silver’s left-hand side as he kept on tormenting Yamikani Fodya with his pace and dribbling skills, but all his dangerous crosses were unattended by Phodo and Babatunde inside the area.

Phodo had his moment of brilliance just after the half-hour mark when he stretched Paipi and created a shooting space for himself. But the forward’s last touch allowed Chikooka to gain ground, and from the rebound, the shot-stopper produced a save to deny Salima from putting the ball into the net.

The last minutes of the opening period saw Silver pressing with intent, but they lacked the finishing composure to make any breakthrough and the half ended goalless.

After the recess, Pasuwa brought in another new signing, Mathews Masamba, and Ernest Petro for Phodo and Chawanangwa Gumbo to try to stop Silver from winning the midfield battle.

Salima was the man to watch with his dribbling skills and ability to take on defenders without fear and had it been Bullets’ strikers were sharp enough in front of the goal, the hosts would have made a breakthrough, but any dangerous ball into the box met the defensive wall of Nickson Mwase and Paipi for the Bankers.

The Capital City side was forced to make a change in the 55th minute when Mwase sustained an injury and was replaced by Innocent Shema.

Silver had a chance from a set piece closer to Bullets’ penalty box, but Nyasulu was in control of his box and made every ball his.

Hassan Kajoke and Ephraim Kondowe replaced Babatunde and Mapemba, who had a very gland game in his full debut with the senior team.

Mologeni, another debutant for Bullets, made a brilliant run to the right flank in theĀ  71st minute before sending an excellent ball into the box, but both Kondowe and Kajoke failed to capitalise against a defence which was caught napping in the line of duty.

Salima sustained an injury in the 73rd minute and he was replaced by captain Precious Sambani, who was making a return to the team after being on the sidelines for months due to an injury.

Phiri combined well with Kondowe before making his way into Silver’s penalty box, but Chikooka was very outstanding between the sticks with yet another important save to deny the Malawi champions a breakthrough.

With 90 minutes played, Pasuwa brought in Nickson Nyasulu for Yankho Singo, a clear indication that he was now preparing his team for penalties.

Despite adding three more minutes to the clock, the two teams could not break the deadlock and penalties had to be used to find the winner.

In the shootout, Nyoni hit the post before Nyasulu’s heroics to deny Chunga and Kamanga from putting the ball into the net as Kajoke, Nickson, Mujuru, Kondowe, Mologeni, Mpokera and Phiri converted all their spot kicks to inspire Bullets to a 7-6 win over the Bankers.

Munthali reacts

Our second assistant coach, Heston Munthali, who was on the touchline on Saturday, provided his reaction following the victory as Bullets defended the NBS Bank Charity Shield.

“Let me thank the boys for the win, we have retained the Shield for the seventh time. It wasn’t an easy match and we knew that our friends would come very hard on us. We have won but we still have a lot of work to do to get the best out of the boys.

“At Bullets, we trust each and every player to play for us hence fielding that starting XI [full of our new faces]. We have never doubted any player and we are happy that every player dawning this jersey gives it all to cement his place in the line-up, so this competition is healthy for the team.”

What next

Next on the menu for Pasuwa’s men is our first TNM Super League fixture of the 2024 season away to Dedza Dynamos next week.

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