Nyasa Big Bullets eased into the semi-finals of CECAFA Kagame Cup on Saturday with a 2-0 win over Atlabara FC at the Azam Complex in Tanzania.
Defender Nickson Nyasulu and striker Hassan Kajoke found the back of the net in the first-half to give The People’s Team a comfortable win against the Sudanese champions.
It was a must-win encounter for Bullets to reach the final four of the competition and assistant coach Peter Mponda made five changes to the side that drew 1-1 against Express FC of Uganda in the second game of the match.
Rabson Chiyenda replaced Ernest Kakhobwe in goals while Sankhani Mkandawire found his way back into the starting XI instead of Miracle Gabeya as Precious Phiri and Hassan Kajoke replaced McFallen Mgwira and Bright Munthali.
Nyasulu settled any potential nerves when he connected home Ben Manyozo’s pass to give Bullets an early lead at 2 minutes.
Bullets continued to control proceedings and enjoyed possession in Atlabara’s half in search for another early goal.
Chimango Kayira found himself in the attacking third and was released by Babatunde in the 18th minute but the holding midfielder had his shot driven wide.
The Sudanese nearly equalized two minutes later, but Yamikani Fodya came to the rescue as he cleared the ball off the line, before the left-back delivered a square ball to find Kajoke inside the box but the striker squandered the opportunity.
It was in the 34th minute when Kajoke doubled the lead with a beautiful header when he headed in the far corner to beat Atlabara goalkeeper Lukas Lucheri, 2-0.
The Sudanese were awarded a penalty following a foul inside the box by Sankhani Mkandawire, however Tombe Appolo had his spotkick denied by the woodwork before Chiyenda collected the ball from a rebound.
In the second half Kajoke nearly netted his second goal of the afternoon when he was found unmarked and with the goalkeeper to beat in the 53rd minute, but the striker missed by a whisker.
In the 62nd minute, Bullets made the first substitutions of the match when Kajoke and Chirwa paved way for Msowoya and Blessings Mpokera, before injured Ben Manyozo was also taken off for Paul Kansungwi.
Babatunde had a good chance to register his name on the scoresheet and extend the lead further only to be denied by Lucheri, before Msowoya wasted an opportunity to score his third goal of the tournament and a third for The People’s Team on the afternoon.
Bullets made two changes with 10 minutes to play when Munthali replaced Babatunde and Anthony Mfune came on for Chimango Kayira.
It was more possession football for The People’s Team in the final minutes of the game which had three minutes added at the end of regulation time.
The win saw Bullets finishing second in Group A with five points from three games. In another final match of the group, Uganda’s Express FC beat Tanzania giants Young Africans 3-1 to finish top of the table with seven points.