Nyasa Big Bullets Reserves are half-way into the final of the Nyasa Capital Finance Cup following a 4-0 thumping of Bangwe All Stars in the first leg of the semi-final played on Wednesday afternoon at Kamuzu Stadium.
Emmanuel Savieli netted a brace with Patrick Mwaungulu and Chikumbutso Salima also finding the back of the net for Enos Chatama’s side to be going into Saturday’s second leg at Mulanje Park with a four-goal advantage.
The young Bullets went into the game nine days after reaching the semi-finals of the Aubrey Dimba Trophy after defeating Extreme FC away in Mchinji.
Chatama welcomed five of his key players that missed the trip to Mchinji due to Malawi U-20 national team camp in preparation for the COSAFA Cup Championship that was cancelled last week before the team left for South Africa.
Yamikani Mologeni, Mwaungulu and Savieli found their way back into the first XI after missing the trip to Mchinji, while Chikumbutso Salima and Maxwell Makopa started on the bench after rejoining the team from the junior Flames camp.
The midweek fixture saw Chatama making four changes to the side that won 1-0 against Extreme FC as captain David Daudi, Frank Mlimanjala and Franklin Titani all started from the bench while Chimwemwe Yassin was out.
Bullets Reserves started on the front foot in search for a quick goal and Savieli should have broken the deadlock six minutes into the game, however the striker was unfortunate as he saw his attempt hit the woodwork and Stanley Billiat could not capitalize on the rebound and the ball was cleared away from danger by the visitors.
Another opportunity came in the 9th when the young Bullets beat an offside trap and Savieli powered the ball into the net, 1-0.
Billiat and Savieli had more chances to punish the visitors with two more goals in the first quarter of the half, but the two forwards were not clinical enough in front of goal despite a disjointed Bangwe All Stars defence, which had problems keeping the ball away from the danger zone.
Bullets would have rued those missed chances in the 18th minute when the visiting Mabvuto Lungu’s side came close with their first shot at goal and goalkeeper Clever Mkungula was brilliant to keep the ball away for a corner.
Chatama was forced to make an early change when Thomson Magombo was withdrawn six minutes before the half hour and was replaced by Frank Mlimanjala as he looked at fixing the midfield.
It was a balanced affair in the last quarter of the opening period and at the end of 45 minutes it ended Bullets Reserves 1-0 Bangwe All Stars.
Billiat should have made it 2-0 in the 52nd minute when he was released by Mlimanjala, however the offside flag went against the teenager. Chatama made two changes on the hour mark when David Daud and Chikumbutso Salima came on for Frank Willard and Felix Demakude.
Salima would have made an instant impact with his first touch, but the forward was denied by the post, before he was brought down outside the penalty area a minute later and Bullets Reserves won a free kick that was beautifully converted by Mwaungulu with his right foot in the 64th minute past goalkeeper Emmanuel Moses “Mandambwe”, who had just picked the only yellow card of the match for protesting the ref’s decision, 2-0.
With the pressure eased, the junior Bullets started playing their normal game knocking the ball around as Mlimanjala and Daud took control of the midfield.
Salima bagged the third goal in the 69th minute when he powered his way into the box closer to the byline where he released a beautiful strike to beat Mandambwe nearpost into the far corner.
It would have been four three minutes later if it wasn’t for the offside flag going up against Savieli, whose next attempt went off target with the goalkeeper already beaten.
Titani replaced Billiat with eight minutes to play and the substitute had his impact felt when he contributed to Bullets’ fourth goal scored by Savieli, who rounded off the ‘keeper before slotting the ball home with his left foot in the 88th minute.
Savieli should have grabbed a hat-trick in stoppage time to take his tally in the competition to 12, but the striker was unfortunate as his strike went marginally wide, and with the final whistle it ended Bullets Reserves 4-0 Bangwe All Stars.
The two sides will face off again in the return leg of the semi-final stage at Mulanje Park on Saturday.