Goals from Hassan Kajoke and Chimwemwe Idana handed Nyasa Big Bullets a 2-1 victory over Mighty Tigers in the TNM Super League at Kamuzu Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The result means Bullets have gone level on points with Silver Strikers with 39 points, but still second with inferior goal difference.
The Bankers, who have a game in hand, have a goal difference of 24 from 18 matches while The People’s Team has a goal different of 23 after playing 19 games.
On Sunday Pasuwa made three changes to the starting team that beat Ekwendeni Hammers last week.
He handed Precious Phiri his second start to the season after the midfielder/wingback recovered from an injury and trained well in the week. Chiukepo Msowoya and Ernest Petro were back in the First XI to replace Lanjesi Nkhoma and injured Mike Mkwate, respectively, while Yamikani Fodya replaced Precious Sambani, who is nursing a knee injury.
Bullets started brightly and were awarded a penalty in the first minute when Tigers goalkeeper Christopher Mikuwa failed to handle Yamikani Fodya’s ball which landed in the path of Phiri and was fouled by the Tigers custodian for referee Mayamiko Kanjere to award the hosts the spotkick from which Kajoke netted.
The People’s Team should have doubled the lead in the 9th minute when Kajoke made a brilliant run to the right flank before delivering a cross to Msowoya, whose weaker shot was easily saved by Mikuwa for a corner kick which had no impact as Tigers regrouped to clear the ball away from danger.
At the other end, Chikaiko Batisoni forced Richard Chimbamba into making his first save when he out-powered Fodya to release his shot from the edge of the penalty box for a corner.
Bullets were playing too deep and invited pressure from Tigers, who were in control of the match but failed to capitalize as Nickson Nyasulu’s led defence stood firm to frustrate the visitors.
In the 36th minute, Phiri’s long range shot was saved by Mikuwa, who despite his earlier mistake was manning his goal posts very well.
Towards the end of the first half Msowoya was stretchered off and replaced by Nkhoma after sustaining a hamstring injury, whilst Tigers’ Jafali Maunde suffered an injury which saw him playing the remaining minutes with pain after he was fouled by Fodya, who was booked in the process.
In the second half, the hosts came out blazing with a scintillating performance which saw Kajoke, Nkhoma and Idana creating chances but weren’t sharp enough to beat Mikuwa.
In the 49th minute, Gomezgani Chirwa was replaced by McFallen Mgwira following a dangerous play by Anthony Namwera.
Bullets were able to cement their lead in the 53rd minute through Idana. A brilliant exchange of passes between the captain, Kajoke and Mgwira released the midfielder who made no mistake to put the ball into an empty net after Mikuwa had left his line in an attempt to save the situation, 2-0.
This prompted Tigers coach Trevor Kajawa to bring on Coradzo Zonda, Blessings Chilembwe and Fatsani Chilikumtima for Jones Kanyumba, Maunde and Matthews Nyirenda.
Bullets were in cruise control of the match and should have sealed the victory in the 59th minute through Kajoke, whose powerful shot from outside the 18-yard box was saved by the Tigers goalie for a corner.
In the 62nd minute, Batisoni caught Sankhani Mkandawire napping in the line of defence, but his effort was well handled by Chimbamba, who was in control of every dead ball in his goal area.
Pasuwa made a change in the 67th minute when he introduced newly-signed left-back Eric Kaonga for Fodya and Paul Kansungwi for Petro as he looked at increasing his attacking options upfront.
Kajoke was doing everything right and nearly found the back of the net in the 77th minute when he dribbled past Boston Kabango and Duncain Mwale before releasing a powerful left footer, which just missed Mikuwa’ goal post with an inch.
Tigers then created another clear-cut opportunity through Chilikumtima, who played Zonda through, but his shot was saved by Chimbamba.
The visitors pulled one back in the 86th minute through a penalty, which came after Mkandawire tripped Chilikumtima in the 18-yard box for Precious Chipungu to step up to take the ball home, 2-1.
As Tigers kept on pressing for an equalizer, Bullets introduced Bright Munthali for Kajoke to try to assist in the defensive phase and after 90 minutes of play, 2-1 it ended.
This was Bullets’ 11th win of the season as they remain unbeaten at home in the ongoing season. As for Tigers, the result leaves them bottom of the standings with 14 points from 18 games.