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Match report: Bullets 1-0 Dragon (3-0 agg)

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Ephraim Kondowe came off the bench to score the lone goal as FCB Nyasa Big Bullets beat Dragon FC 1-0 at Bingu National Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

The victory means The People’s Team has progressed to the second preliminary round of the CAF Champions League with a comfortable 3-0 margin after securing a 2-0 win away in Equatorial Guinea last week.

What happened

Bullets started on the front foot through Lanjesi Nkhoma, Ernest Petro and Anthony Mfune but to make a breakthrough proved to be difficult as the attackers faced a very resilient defending approach from the visitors.

Granted the hosts came into this game with an advantage, Kalisto Pasuwa’s men knew they couldn’t rest on their laurels against the Central African side.

Bullets continued to build on the momentum as our outfield players camped in the visitors’ half, with our maestro Nkhoma directing traffic.

Maxwell Phodo, who netted a brace in the first leg away in Malabo, missed Bullets’ clear chance in the 15th minute when a short corner played by Mfune to Gomezgani Chirwa was delivered into the box, only for the striker to send his header over the crossbar when he was unmarked inside the six-yard box.

At the other end of the field, Richard Chimbamba came to our rescue with a save to deny Felipe Biyogo Obiang Topepe from scoring, the first shot at goal from the visitors.

At 33 minutes, Mfune’s shot was well saved by Gustave Guirlele after Clyde Senaji set him up as Bullets increased their attacking pace looking to break the deadlock.

Moments later, Yamikani Fodya’s well-taken freekick called Guirlele into action with an excellent save for a corner kick, which the visitors easily defended.

It was a very frustrating opening half for Pasuwa’s charges who, despite pressing from all angles, failed to make any breakthrough to end the half goalless.

In the second half, Dragon came a very much improved side as they kept possession and took the game to the hosts who were now forced to sit back to defend their two-goal advantage.

Frank Willard should have scored in the 54th minute through a well-taken freekick that missed Guirlele’s crossbar with an inch.

In this final half, chances were very few as both teams failed to make any amends in the attacking zones.

Ephraim Kondowe and Patrick Mwaungulu replaced Mfune and Phodo in the 63rd minute to improve the hosts’ attacking prowess in a desperate bid for a goal in front of their fans.

Bullets nearly conceded in the 65th minute when Chimbamba made an error to lose the ball to the opposition inside the penalty box but Fodya’s experience in defence was very vital as he made a timely clearance to keep the game at 0-0.

Kondowe comes off the bench to make another impact

The forward is becoming Bullets’ super substitute as he netted another vital goal for The People’s Team after coming off the bench in the second half.

Just minutes after his introduction, Kondowe registered his name on the scoresheet when he scored his first CAF Champions League goal after he was set through by Mwaungulu in the 67th minute, 1-0.

The goal was all that Bullets needed as the Malawi champions knew qualification to the next round was guaranteed.

Fodya sent off

The defender’s exploits in the game ended in the 75th minute when he was sent off following a challenge on Ludovid Esono Abaga Abeso on the edge of the penalty area.

Initially, referee Wilhem Letukwafa Haitmbu had awarded the visitors a spot kick as he thought the challenge was inside the penalty box. But the second assistant referee Alex Muzibwane Lumponjani spotted the incident outside the area. The visitors failed to utilize the setpiece.

Sensing danger, Pasuwa brought in Blessings Mpokera, Nickson Nyasulu and Kenneth Pasuwa for Mwaungulu, Nkhoma and Willard whilst Nicolas Nconi Bibang Nchama introduced his only two substitutes on the bench, Jaime Carmelo Miko Ayang and Antonio Esimi Oyono Nzang for Antonio Martin Mekina Olinga Nchama and Abaga Abeso.

The visitors had three players on the bench due to logistical problems as the rest of their players arrived at Kamuzu International Airport on Sunday, a few minutes after the final whistle.

It was just a matter of managing the game to avoid conceding a late goal against a side that had a one-man advantage over the hosts.

Chimbamba was booked for committing a foul outside the penalty box, but the visitors, again, couldn’t capitalize from the set piece as they sent their effort over the crossbar.

The final minutes of the half saw Dragon pressurizing the hosts, who were now forced to sit back and defend everything thrown at them, with Senaji making two superb clearances from freekicks to keep his team in the lead.

With five minutes added to the clock, Bullets kept possession by moving with the ball in the opposition’s half to claim a hard-fought victory and progress to the next phase of the competition where they will face Democratic Republic of Congo’s TP Mazembe in the second preliminary round in mid-September.

Next

The next assignment for Bullets is a league match against Civil Service United on Wednesday at the Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre.

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