From two goals down, FCB Nyasa Big Bullets staged a classic TNM Super League comeback to register a 3-2 victory over Civil Service United on Wednesday afternoon at the Kamuzu Stadium.
Lanjesi Nkhoma initiated the retaliation mission when he made it 2-1 a few minutes before the interval break as substitute Ephraim Kondowe and Patrick Mwaungulu scored in the second half to complete what will go down as one of the memorable comebacks Malawi’s top-flight football league has produced.
The result of the five-goal thriller sends The People’s Team back on top of the latest TNM Super League standings. There was more to it.
Returning from the successful two-legged CAF Champions League fixture against Dragon FC, Bullets made a dreadful start to the TNM Super League tie against the then ninth-placed Civil who put up good work to tick over the champions in most boxes.
In the early stages, Maule managed to launch into a series of attacks but was unable to hit the target.
The visitors had their knocking at our goal succeed with their second shot on target when former Bullets forward Luke Chima claimed the driving seat of the tie in the 19th minute with a simple tap-in.
Binwell Katinji, who is the Civil’s leading top goal scorer, struck a fierce low shot at goal which goalkeeper Richard Chimbamba put a firm hand on but the ball could only kindly reach Chima for the simplest of finishes.
Being at home, the champions were expected to provide a quick reply but to make the mood even sour for Maule, the visitors scored again three minutes after when Kesten Simbi failed to clear an in-swinging delivery from Llyod Aaron and Katinji pounced to execute a magnificent volley past Chimbamba to make it 2-0
We then poured forward in their area and successfully won a penalty but unfortunately, we could not pull one back as Nkhoma’s effort from the spot got saved by Tione Tembo who was having a wonderful match having already registered several reflexive saves.
With the two-goal lead, Civil, who over the years have been walloped in away fixtures against us, looked so much in control of the tie that it seemed we were headed to go for the break with a two-goal deficit.
Nonetheless, it wasn’t to be as Nkhoma, with five minutes to go let off his sins of missing a penalty by composedly finishing a team move inside the box to make it 2-1 just before the break.
With the 2-1 score-line the match returned for the second half beautifully poised for both sides. In an attempt to shake things up, coach Kalisto Pasuwa made a triple change when re-introducing his charges for the final part.
Replacing Kenneth Pasuwa, Simbi and Antony Mfune were Frank Willard, Ephraim Kondowe, and the crowd enticer on the day Peter Banda, who had re-joined Bullets just 24 hours before the match from the Tanzanian side Simba SC.
Joining the field of play, Banda made an instant impact but it was Kondowe, who recently has made himself a popular super sub, who levelled things up with a pocket finish after a slick exchange of passes by Banda and Mwaungulu down the left-hand side of the 18-yard box to make it 2-2 four minutes after being introduced.
With the momentum we had gained and plenty of time left to play, the fans were assured of a comeback being completed quickly thereafter. What followed was a series of chances and misses again. Kondowe hit the post with a free header, and Banda’s well-struck free-kick missed the target by a whisker thereafter.
Four minutes to go before the 90th-minute mark, arrived the moment of sheer brilliance as Ernest Petro placed an extremely exquisite through-ball pass to pick Mwaungulu who displayed a fantastic ball reception to face the goal before unleashing a stunner which proved to be the winner of the tie.
There were some late scares for us but the experience helped us to see off the tie to keep our impeccable record at the Kamuzu Stadium intact. From 0-2 down FCB Nyasa Big Bullets we ensured a 3-2 victory over Civil Service United.
What it means
With the win today, Bullets are now back on top with 37 points from 18 matches having been able to score 34 goals, conceding 10. While we have drawn 7, we have lost 1 and won 10.
Banda receives a warm welcome as Mwaungulu stars in the number 10 role
The return of our former prodigal Peter Banda proved to be one of the major parts of our midweek fixture as fans seemed to be thrilled to see him again in the famous red and white colours of Maule as they cheered him from the warm-up team sessions even when he was starting on the bench.
After coming on as a sub, Banda did not disappoint as he was quite an influence in the attack to help us achieve what was an impossible comeback mission. His bright performance and the sight of him showing a strong allegiance with the fans by throwing his jersey to them after the match made a remarkable story of a beloved returning home after a lengthy time in Europe and East Africa.
At the end of the match, Mwaungulu was named Man of the Match and no one can have the courage to dispute that. The wide midfielder operating as a number 10 in the second half was simply unstoppable as he caused the visitors lots of problems with his superb range of passing to curve open the well sit Civil Servants’ back-line.
Deservedly he got the winning goal and the Farmers Organisation Limited Man of the Match award.
What will follow for the champions after this comeback is the international break which will be quickly followed by another two-legged CAF Champions League second preliminary round fixture against TP Mazembe from the Democratic Republic of Congo at the Bingu National Stadium on 17 September.
Richard Chimbamba, Gomezgani Chirwa, Kesten Simbi, Clyde Senaji, Precious Phiri, Kenneth Pasuwa, Blessings Mpokera, Ernest Petro, Patrick Mwaungulu, Lanjesi Nkhoma, Antony Mfune.
McFallen Mgwira, Peter Banda, Ephraim Kondowe, Frank Willard.