FCB Nyasa Big Bullets continued to edge closer to their fifth consecutive TNM Super League title as they came from behind to defeat Kamuzu Barracks 3-2 on Wednesday afternoon at Kamuzu Stadium.
The visitors won the first half by a goal to nil thanks to Olson Kanjira’s strike in the eleventh minute.
Ephraim Kondowe and Maxwell Gasten Phodo put us in a comeback lead after the restart, but Kanjira levelled things up before Lanjesi Nkhoma decided what was a difficult fixture for Maule as the title race intensifies.
Following today’s five-goal thriller, Bullets have reopened the three-point lead at the top of the standings with 53 points and remain with six games to wrap up the 2023 league campaign.
The league leaders made a slack start to their 24th match of the season against the military outfit who, with the right approach, put us under a lot of pressure which we struggled to withstand until we conceded early in the opening period.
Ndaona Saizi arrowed a high cross from midway through the right-hand side byline and their towering in-form striker Kanjira was at the right place to turn the ball in and give the visitors a lead.
Without regular starting defending midfielder Frank Willard and the creative midfielder Patrick Mwaungulu, who were the only missing faces from the side that beat Chitipa United 2-0 last Saturday, The People’s Team struggled to put their feet in the tie as minutes melted away.
The nearest we came to equalizing was in the last minute of the opening half when Chawanangwa Gumbo’s effort was cleared off the goal-line by Lloyd Mugawa to deny us an equalizer.
Returning from the break the visitors never lost the threat they carried in the first half when surging forward as Daisi almost turned scorer from provider when he hit the upright with a powerful shot to let us walk away with another let-off five minutes into the second half.
From then on, the champions kept their heart in pushing for a leveller but found it hard to make any inroads in their attacks which were designated to happen through the wide channels.
And amidst the struggle, somehow Bullets found a way to get themselves back into the match.
Precious Phiri, who has just been voted as the Hubertus Clausius Player of the Month for September, intercepted the visitors’ counter and quickly released Kondowe who raced into the box before whacking the ball into the far bottom corner past Lehman Nthala, who had been top notch throughout the encounter until that moment.
The tie then took a dramatic turnaround when just a minute after our equalizer we were ahead for the first time. Nkhoma did well to shoot at goal and Nthala found himself in a goalkeeping misadventure when he fumbled the strike only for Phodo to complete the comeback with a simple finish at the stroke of an hour to make it 2-1 to the good.
The match did not cease to produce wonders as Kamuzu Barracks levelled up four minutes later through their target man, Kanjira, who again got the better of our defenders in an aerial battle and headed home to make it 2-2.
Interestingly, Pasuwa’s men proved to be just too stubborn as they reestablished their lead yet again three minutes later.
Blessings Mpokera spread a brilliant pass to substitute Stanley Billiat who raced on with the ball before crossing it into the box for Nkhoma to finish emphatically after the visitors’ defence struggled to clear the lines again.
For the remaining quarter an hour, both sides pushed for the next goal but the tie was already decided by Nkhoma’s 14th strike of the season, 3-2 it finished.
What it means
Maule continued their home unbeaten run as they now reach 53 points from 24 matches and have two games in hand against second-placed Mighty Mukuru Wanderers, whom we host in the Blantyre derby at Kamuzu Stadium on 5 November.
So far, Bullets have drawn on eight occasions and tasted only a single defeat. Having scored 45 goals, we have also conceded 15 times.
The Airtel Top 8 action returns for The Peoples Team this coming Saturday when they welcome Civil Service United in the quarter-final second leg at Kamuzu Stadium following our 2-0 away triumph in the first leg in Lilongwe a fortnight ago.
How we lined up
XI| Chiyenda; Chirwa, Okumu, Fodya, Sambani ©; Mpokera, Gumbo, Phiri; Nkhoma, Phodo, Kondowe
Used Subs| Mgwira, Billiat, Mfune