Highs and lows of defeat to Simba

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Every defeat is painful and home defeats are even harder to take under normal circumstances. However, teams with a serious agenda can take out positives from any mishap and perfect their act in the next episode of battles.

Nyasa Big Bullets on Saturday opened its 2022/23 TotalEnergies CAF Champions League campaign with a 0-2 home defeat at the hands of Simba Sports Club from neighbouring Tanzania.

With this result, Kalisto Pasuwa’s men will go into the second leg at Benjamin Mkapa Stadium in Dar es Salaam this coming weekend with no pressure, something that might work to The People’s Team’s advantage if the necessary tactics are put into play.

In a game of few chances, one thing that was noticeable from afar was that the home side failed to stamp its authority on the match the whole first half. The visitors dominated the proceedings, bossing around the game with unmatched condescension.

From sleek movements and passes transitioning from defence to attack all the way to making numerous goal attempts in the opening stages, Simba looked a well-oiled machine with our players second on the ball, chasing shadows all afternoon.

Apparently, the home side gave a little too much respect to their princely opponents who took advantage of the stage fright among some of the Bullets players to press and cause problems for our team to settle down.

Moses Phiri’s bicycle kick goal on the half-hour mark was a bad omen that made life difficult for our boys during moments of disarray in attack, especially from the wings where supply lines were choked off by the Tanzanian side’s experience and organization in pushing forward.

A few things need to be put into perspective though; the visitors were more fluent and offensive right from the start of the match played in front of a partisan crowd full of expectations for the local runaway league leaders and defending champions.

Ironically, Pasuwa on paper started with a more offensive formation. Four defenders were deployed in on-field leader John Lanjesi marshalling the rearguard alongside Kesten Simbi, versatile wingbacks Gomezgani Chirwa and Precious Sambani.

Pasuwa packed his midfield with five men in a diamond formation where former reservist and returnee Frank Willard held the deep six hole while Ernest Petro and Chimwemwe Idana completed the mid-park triangle as rookies Patrick Mwaungulu and pacy Lanjesi Nkhoma manned the wings with Nigerian Babatunde Adepoju as the main target man upfront.

Intentionally this formation was aimed at increasing personnel driving forward into attacking positions but a combination of Simba’s tactical approach and failure to implement the game plan warded off all efforts by the home side to register any meaningful attack in the first half, where Adepoju was apparently cut off and isolated rendering him ineffective.

Changes made by Pasuwa bringing in McFallen Mgwira and Hassan Kajoke before the break brought some spark to the home team’s play. No wonder Bullets started the second half with more belief and purpose, taking the game to their opponents.

A few chances were created with Sambani, Idana and Adepoju all missing the target. Only if Bullets had converted one of these chances, the complexion of the game would have drastically changed.

Lack of composure in front of the goal proved decisive at this stage of the game. Meanwhile, the visitors were more patient as they endured Bullets’ attacks with patience and got a second goal on the break through and that was game over.

On the overall, The People’s Team’s play especially in the second half showed a lot of promise. With tactical discipline, the team can get a result on Sunday in Tanzania against a charged side oozing with confidence.

To our gladiators; nothing is impossible on this journey. The boys have what it takes to put up a fight in Dar es Salaam. There is a need to refocus and play to instructions.

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