Nyasa Big Bullets Reserves completed the defence of the ThumbsUp Southern Region Football League title following a hard-fought 2-0 triumph over Bangwe All Stars at the Kamuzu Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Bangwe All Stars looked well-drilled throughout the finale but were undone by tap-ins from Lyton Chinong’one and Emmanuel Saviel in each half.
The final tie of the Premier Division League proved to be a game of chess right from the opening whistle.
Both teams cancelled each other’s counterattacks with exceptional reading of the match.
Nonetheless, it was our youngsters who first found the breakthrough as the final unfolded.
In the 13th minute, Franklin Titani dispatched quite a delicious free-kick inside the box and Chikumbutso Salima connected it with a good header, but Elias Missi parried his effort away only for the ball to go in the path of Chinong’one, who had the simple task of smuggling it home to make it 0-1.
Immediately, Bangwe head coach, Mabvuto Lungu, made a double change as he looked for a positive response to going down early in the tie.
James Zuze and Silvester Phiri replaced Andrew Jere and Andrew Maluwa for Bangwe and were able to steady their ship, which looked to be sinking after our first strike.
At the end of the opening half, Balogun Ayo almost equalized for the hosts but saw his dangerous effort cannon against the crossbar before the ball went out for a goal-kick.
Similarly, to the first half, the closing chapter of the tie presented a tightly contested battle early in its stages.
However, the match started to open slowly as action now seemed to be swinging end to end.
Bangwe had several chances but were utterly wasteful while each time our youngsters pushed forward, it looked like we were about to double the lead.
With 12 minutes to go, the young Bullets established a two-goal lead through Saviel.
Chiwaya stormed into the box before sliding a pass to Saviel and the forward tapped in to take his goal tally to 24 and hand us a comfortable lead in the 78th minute.
With that scoreline, our youngsters were now cruising through. With Bangwe going all out to force a comeback while leaving spaces behind, Chatama’s boys created many clear-cut chances they failed to bury.
The big job for the lads had already been accomplished and Bangwe could do nothing to prevent a second defeat at the hands of the champions this campaign.
What it means
Winning the ThumbsUp SRFL championship on Saturday completed a quadruple for Bullets Reserves, who went into the final having already won the Powerstart Cup, the Nyasa Capital Finance Cup and the Aubrey Dimba Trophy.
The championship triumph also means that the young Bullets have become the first team in the second tier to defend four titles in two back-to-back seasons. Last year they also wore the crowns of the four competitions.
Saviel scored the second goal for us to seal the win over Bangwe All Stars on Saturday afternoon and with that strike, the forward has won the ThumbsUp SRFL League Golden Boot award with 24 goals in 19 matches. Salima came second with 19 goals in 20 appearances.
What the managers said
Chatama: “The first half seemed difficult because I told the boys to hold them [Bangwe] and finish them in the second half. We found a lot of chances in the second half; we could have scored five or six goals. All in all, we should be satisfied that we have won the championship and got the clean sheet.”
Lungu: “For five years, our friends [Bullets Reserves] have had [almost] the same players and they know each other. There are a lot of things they do. Theirs was a good game plan and so was ours, but we missed it narrowly. In a game, if you do not concentrate, those were the consequences, otherwise, we were not bad.”
As this was our youngsters’ last game of the season, there will be no further action for them. What follows is the off-season break before the new campaign restarts in the next few months.