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Match report: Bullets 1-2 Civil [Agg 3-2)

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FCB Nyasa Big Bullets suffered a 2-1 defeat to Civil Service United but progressed to the Airtel Top 8 semifinals for a third consecutive season on a 3-2 aggregate victory at Kamuzu Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Maxwell Phodo opened the scoring for The People’s Team in the first minute but Llyod Aaron equalised moments later before Chifundo Ngapemba scored the winner for the visitors in the second half.
The loss saw Bullets’ eight-game unbeaten run as well as the unbeaten home run since the 2022 season in domestic competitions come to an end.
What happened
Kalisto Pasuwa made several changes to the side that defeated Kamuzu Barracks 3-2 in the TNM Super League on Wednesday, with Nickson Nyasulu, Eric Kaonga, Richard Chimbamba, Thomson Magombo, Frank Willard and Hassan Kajoke all given a place in the starting eleven as several regular players were rested, with some on the sidelines with injuries.
Bullets went into the tie with an advantage after winning the first leg tie 2-0 away in Lilongwe on 11 October.
The visitors stepped up and made the hosts run for their money.
From the first minute, Bullets pressed for an early lead, and they got their wish as Phodo headed past Tione Tembo from Precious Phiri’s well taken cornerkick to put Pasuwa’s men ahead, 1-0.
However, the celebrations were cut short as Aaron leveled from the spot in the 10th minute after Collins Okumu brought down on Luke Chima inside the area.
The next minutes belonged to Abbas Makawa’s charges, who pressed from all angles through Aaron, Moses Banda, Chima, Innocent Tanganyika and Chikaiko Batison, but to find the back of the net was difficult as Okumu and his defensive partner, Nyasulu, protected Chimbamba with excellent clearances.
Bullets’ day was worsened when full-back Gomezgani Chirwa sustained an injury and he was replaced by McFallen Mgwira.
The injury was a blessing to the visitors who started to attack through Batison, who created several goal scoring opportunities for the Lilongwe-based side, but they couldn’t put the ball into the net.
After the half-hour mark, Kajoke was a recipient of a fantastic cross from Kaonga, but his effort swerved past Tembo, who was completely static and very fortunate not to concede.
Moments later, Magombo’s throughball to Phodo nearly restored Bullets’ lead, but the forward, despite dribbling past Tembo, sent his effort wide when the goal was wide open.
At this moment, it was a 50-50 affair, but the most active area was the midfield, which was mostly dominated by Aaron and Banda.
The hosts were very fortunate not to concede another goal in the opening period and it ended 1-1.
In the second half, Pasuwa brought in Anthony Mfune for Magombo to try to increase the firepower in search of another goal in an attempt to completely kill off the game.
In the 50th minute, Kaonga was denied by Tembo, who produced a brilliant save to concede a cornerkick, which was easily defended by the visitors.
It was Civil who doubled their lead in the 57th minute through Ngapemba, who produced a powerful header from Tanganyika’s excellent delivery into the box, beating Chimbamba to his near post.
This was a sign that the match was far from over as predicted by Pasuwa, who told the club’s media ahead of the tie that “the second leg would be very tough” against a well-organized opposition.
The advantage was still with Bullets, but another goal from the visitors would have seen the game level and the table would have turned in Civil’s favour as that would mean they had scored three away goals against Bullets’ two.
Sensing danger, Pasuwa brought in Yankho Singo and Lanjesi Nkhoma for Phiri and Kajoke.
The visitors continued dominating and nearly punished Bullets when Batison advanced into the shooting range only to see his goal-bound shot well blocked by Okumu, who was injured in the process but recovered from the setback.
Festus Chikwezga replaced Ngapemba, who also sustained an injury.
After a sequence of counterattacks, Chimbamba made an incredible save from Chima’s powerful header from yet another brilliant cross from Tanganyika.
The Servants looked dangerous on the counter as the clock was ticking very fast, racing into Bullets’ half off the back of their counter pressing, and Aaron almost doubled his tally when he was set up by Chikwezga on the edge of the penalty box, but his strike went over the crossbar.
At the other end, Phodo’s weaker shot was stopped by Tembo, who wasn’t much troubled in this final half.
With six minutes left on the clock, Chikwezga missed Civil’s closest goal scoring opportunity when he was gifted the ball by Kaonga right inside the six-yard box but sent his attempt off target¬†when Chimbamba and his defenders were completely outnumbered by the visitors.
This was a close chance they regretted moments later as Referee Dennis Chinoko blew his whistle to mark the end of the match.
What it means
Despite the defeat, Bullets marched on to the last four of the 2023 Airtel Top 8 Cup and will face Blue Eagles at a venue and date to be announced by the Football Association of Malawi, following the draw conducted at half time during our match against Civil.
What next
Next on the menu for Pasuwa’s charges will be a round-of-64 match against Lipulumundu FC in the Castel Challenge Cup on Wednesday before the Blantyre Derby on Sunday at Kamuzu Stadium.

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