Nyasa Big Bullets returned to winning ways with a comfortable 5-1 victory over Moyale Barracks at Kamuzu Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The TNM Super League defending champions had several key players missing out of the match due to injuries, but had the best afternoon as they swept aside the visiting Mzuzu-based soldiers who had no answer to the hosts’ fast-paced football throughout.
Bullets were eagerly seeking to make amends for their disappointing 3-3 draw against Red Lions a fortnight ago and turned it on in style at the Soccer Mecca.
Head Coach Kalisto Pasuwa made four changes to his side, handing first starts to Misheck Seleman and Richard Chimbamba as well as reinstating Miracle Gabeya and Chiukepo Msowoya, who came in for the injured Ben Manyozo and Hassan Kajoke, who was sent into isolation on Friday following a Covid-19 test.
Everything was put to rest when defensive midfielder Aziz Mwakifuna scored a header in the 10th minute, connecting home Precious Sambani’s inviting cross.
Bullets doubled the lead in the 15th minute through Chimwemwe Idana’s header past Simeon Maganga after receiving a superb pass from Seleman, who was causing havoc in the left flank of the northern goal post where the visitors started defending.
Sambani should have found a goal in the 18th minute when he intercepted a clearance pass from Maganga, but his shot just missed the goal post with an inch.
Nickson Nyasulu netted Bullets’ third goal four minutes to the half-hour mark. A corner kick from McFallen Mgwira was cleared by Boy Boy Chima only to land straight at Mike Mkwate’s foot, who sent a cross into the blind side of the six yard box to find the central defender who took a free header past substitute goalkeeper Oris Nkhwazi, who just came on to replace injured Maganga, 3-0.
As the first half was heading to an end, Sambani had a goal ruled out for offside in the 43rd minute and that was all for the half.
In the second half, the visitors regrouped and corrected some of the mistakes they committed in the opening half.
Brown Magaga almost found the back of the net when he was let through by Lloyd Njaliwa, but the forward was too slow on the ball to allow Miracle Gabeya to clear the danger away from his box.
Moments later, the visitors missed another golden opportunity to halve the deficit when a beautiful cross from Lovemore Jere was sent Deus Mkutu’s way, but the striker’s effort was well blocked by Nyasulu to concede a corner which the hosts easily cleared.
In the 60th minute, Pasuwa made a triple substitution by introducing Patrick Phiri, Zicco Mkanda and Yamikani Fodya for Chiukepo Msowoya, Mgwira and Sambani.
Mkwate made it 4-0 in the 72nd minute. A brilliant run by Seleman into the box saw his shot fumbled by Nkhwazi only to land straight into the path of the central midfielder, who made no mistake but to guide the ball into the back of the net, 4-0.
The visitors introduced Hassan Upindi for Mkutu as they tried to reduce the arrears and they did so in style in the 80th minute through Magaga, who capitalised on Bullets’ defensive relapse outside the penalty box.
In the 83rd minute, Captain John Lanjesi made his long awaited return from an injury he sustained a year ago when he came on for Chimwemwe Idana, whilst Henry Kabichi was introduced for Seleman. It was a tactical change by Pasuwa as Gabeya was switched to right-back while Chirwa took Seleman’s place on the right flank.
Bullets completed their rioting inside the additional minutes when Mkanda rounded off the scoring with a chip from long range after the goalkeeper had left his line, to score his first goal for The People’s Team since he joined Pasuwa’s side earlier this year.
Speaking in a post-match interview, Pasuwa hailed his boys for the performance.
“The boys pushed the ball around and created several chances from which we scored. But we need to do more in terms of defending,” sad the head coach.
He added: “We played the match without several key players due to reasons beyond our control and we had to rely on the players who were available for selection. As Bullets, we need to prepare each and every player who is playing and we had to take those who were ready to play and it worked out.”
Richard Chimbamba was in goals for Bullets at The People’s Team were without Ernest Kakhobwe and Rabson Chiyenda. The former was also sent into isolation on Friday following a Covid-19 test, while the latter was out due to a finger fracture he suffered during training.
The result means Bullets are fifth with eight points from five games whilst Moyale Barracks are bottom of the standings with one point from four matches.
This was Bullets’ first win at home this season, having dropped points to Blue Eagles and Red Lions with 0-0 and 3-3 draws, respectively.