FCB Nyasa Big Bullets have moved back on top of the TNM Super League following a convincing 3-0 victory over Extreme FC at Kamuzu Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The defending champions now have 34 points, dislodging Silver Strikers who were top of the table going into Matchweek 17. The Bankers lost 1-0 to Red Lions on the same afternoon at Balaka Stadium.
Goals from Patrick Mwaungulu, Yamikani Fodya and Anthony Mfune brought The People’s Team back to winning ways after registering three successive draws in the league.
Kalisto Pasuwa made four changes to the side that drew 0-0 away to Mafco FC, with Maxwell Phodo, Yamikani Fodya, Ernest Petro and Eric Kaonga all coming in for Anthony Mfune, Precious Sambani, Blessings Mpokera and Clyde Senaji.
From the onset, Bullets pressed for an early lead and should have had one when Frank Willard’s long ball into the offensive zone caught Blessings Juma napping to concede a corner kick which the visitors easily defended.
The hosts kept on hunting for a goal early in the half as we looked to unsettle Extreme, who were not an easy side to beat in our two previous meetings, but every move was well dealt with by the visitors’ back four, including excellent goalkeeping from Juma, who has proved to be one of the outstanding performers for the Central Region rookies.
The first clear scoring opportunity was created by Gomezgani Chirwa, who saw his dangerous pass into the box destined for Phodo, well stopped by John Chalamanda.
At the other end, Beston Jimu’s penalty appeal was turned down by referee Mayamiko Kanjere, who awarded Bullets an advantage for a goal kick.
Bullets thought had a goal in the 21st minute when Phodo scored from a rebound following a powerful shot from Willard, but the second assistant referee raised his flag for an offside call.
But the deadlock was broken in the 24th minute when Willard’s through ball found Patrick Mwaungulu, who made a brilliant three-point turn before smashing it home to beat Juma, 1-0.
Though beaten, Juma was still in control of his area as he produced a stunning save to deny Chawanangwa Gumbo from finding the back of the net with his long-range effort outside the penalty area.
The visitors made two first-half substitutions when they brought on Tony Phiri and Daniel Phiri for Francis Pukusu and John Chasowa to try to fix their midfield, which was being dominated by Willard, Ernest Petro and Gumbo.
Extreme had their share of opportunity but failed to put the ball into the net when Jimu and Gregory Mwase tore Bullets’ defence apart only to see the ball rolling out of action when Clever Mkungula was already beaten in the line of duty.
Nkhoma had an opportunity to double our advantage when he was spotted by Mwaungulu but the wing forward’s pace could not match his partner’s excellent delivery behind him.
The final minutes of the opening half saw Bullets pressing into the opposition’s half, but twice, Juma was very equal to the task with excellent and unbelievable saves.
In the second half, both teams started with a slow pace, but Bullets created their first scoring chance when Gumbo’s long-range volley missed Juma’s goal mouth with just an inch for a goal kick
It was an improved performance from the visitors who were able to contain the pressure from the hosts, unlike in the first half where Bullets dominated and posed more threat at goal despite failing to convert some of the clear-cut chances in the six-yard area.
Juma was once again called into action to stop Mwaungulu’s superb pass into the box, which would have found Phodo at the other end of the area.
In the 64th minute, Levison Gopani, Chifundo George and Babangida Ishaya replaced Phiri, Justice Honde, and Mwase to improve their attacking prowess in a desperate bid for an equalizer which never came.
Mkungula was forced to make a save to deny Jimu from scoring when our defence was caught sleeping on duty after failing to clear a long ball from Chalamanda.
Pasuwa made a triple substitution when he brought in Ephraim Kondowe, Anthony Mfune and Kenneth Pasuwa for Nkhoma, Phodo and Petro in search of more goals as the hosts were unable to make any impact in the final third.
Immediately, Kondowe won a penalty when he was brought down by Juma, who wanted to stop a long pass from Pasuwa inside the penalty area.
Fodya stepped up in the 74th minute to double Bullets’ advantage with a goal from the spot, 2-0.
The defending champions completely buried the game in the 79th minute when Mfune scored an excellent volley after the visitors failed to clear Mwaungulu’s delivery into the penalty area from a free kick, 3-0.
Mwaungulu should have doubled his tally when he was set through by yet another brilliant pass from Willard, but his attempt was stopped by Juma.
With four minutes left to play, Gumbo was replaced by Precious Phiri.
Phiri had his rare opportunity in the 87th minute when he won the ball in the offensive zone but Chalamanda was very much alert with an excellent block which would have resulted in a goal, and after 90 minutes, Bullets walked out with all three points with a convincing 3-0 win to move top of the table with 34 points, two above the second-placed Silver who lost 1-0 to Red Lions courtesy of a first half strike from Brown Gondwe.
Pasuwa’s post-match interview
The Bullets head coach hailed his charges for a swift response from last week’s goalless draw away to Mafco FC.
“It’s a sweet victory for the boys considering that they are coming from a disappointing draw and to score three goals is a plus. I am congratulating the boys for the gallant fight,” he told journalists.
On his overall performance from his players, the tactician said, “Our first half performance was below par because we always change players in each and every game. We had Senaji and others out of this match, we brought in other players and it was evident that we would struggle, but we came to the party in the final half where we scored two goals to win comfortably. I am happy with the response from the substitutes and every player who was given an opportunity to play today.”
Next on the menu is Equatorial Guinea’s Dragon FC in the CAF Champions League first preliminary round away in Malabo next weekend.