FCB Nyasa Big Bullets started the FDH Bank Cup defence with an emphatic 4-0 victory over Ndirande Stars at Kamuzu Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.
Hassan Kajoke netted a brace as Patrick Mwaungulu and Maxwell Phodo scored a goal each to take the holders into the last-16
With more injuries to the squad, head coach Kalisto Pasuwa made several changes to his starting eleven by handing starts to Thomson Magombo, Clever Mkungula, Chawanangwa Gumbo and Kesten Simbi.
From the word go, Bullets pressed for an early goal through their usual attacking players, but the visitors, led by captain Kingsley Benson defended well to deny the hosts from taking an early lead.
Five minutes into the match, Gumbo saw his long-range effort missing the right goal post with an inch following a brilliant exchange of passes between Mwaungulu and Magombo before releasing the midfielder.
Simeon Kapuza’s charges were also called into action in the 8th minute when Maxwell Phodo failed nearly broke the deadlock after he was released by Mwaungulu’s excellent pass into the box, but Benson made a timely clearance.
Nonetheless, the Southern Region Premier Division side couldn’t hold Bullets for so long as they found themselves 1-0 down in the 13th minute through Mwaungulu.
Magombo was the architect of the goal following his brilliant run into the box before being denied by the woodwork and Mwaungulu pounced from the rebound, 1-0.
The match was slowly losing its touch following too many stoppages by referee Kesten Mnenula due to anti-football tactics from the visitors who were just kicking their opponents anyhow.
But this did not stop Bullets from playing their usual game and we should have doubled the lead in the 18th minute when Mwaungulu set through Phodo who opted to pass the ball to Kajoke instead of shooting as goalkeeper Hamidu Msopa was nowhere near his goal posts.
We doubled our lead just before the half-hour mark when Phodo produced a simple finish following a mistake from Msopa, who failed to clear Gomezgani Chirwa’s long ball from a freekick, 2-0.
In the 33rd minute, Magombo was brought down inside the area by defender Moses Gunde, and a penalty was awarded to Bullets from which Kajoke stepped up to put the ball beyond Msopa’s reach, 3-0.
Kajoke was able to double his tally in the 36th minute when he connected well a pass from Mwaungulu inside the six-yard box, 4-0, and that was all for the half.
Pasuwa made two half-time changes as he brought on Ephraim Kondowe and Precious Phiri for Kajoke and Magombo, a decision that was described as tactical by the gaffer.
The visitors came out rejuvenated after the break and were able to pass the ball into the offensive zones, and it wasn’t surprising to see them registering their first effort at goal in the 47th minute when Richard Luciano’s attempt was tipped over the bar by Mkungula, who was called into action for the first time in the match.
Kapuza’s charges had another attempt at goal in the 54th minute through Thokozani Mpinde, who was denied by Mkungula for a corner kick, which was well cleared by Frank Willard.
The visitors were having more possession than how they struggled in the first half, but the defending champions used the experience to close them down in the wings which they mostly used to advance into the final third.
Kapuza brought in Sholingah Stambuli for Anthony Phiri to try to improve his attacking prowess.
Bullets should have increased the lead in the 67th minute but Kondowe could not put the ball into the net when he was found in a one-on-one situation with the goalkeeper.
Moments later, the centre-forward was at it again when he smartly won the ball from Gunde, but wasn’t fast enough to pull the trigger and allowed the visitors to recover before putting the ball away from danger.
Pasuwa made a triple substitution in the 75th minute when he introduced Ernest Petro, Anthony Mfune and Kenneth Pasuwa for Phodo, Gumbo and Collins Okumu.
Kondowe nearly opened his account but his goal-bound shot was deflected for a corner kick, which the visitors easily defended.
In the 78th minute, Precious Sambani made a brilliant run into the far left before sending a brilliant cross into the box which was missed by every red shirt, allowing Ndirande Stars to regroup and survive the scare.
With seven minutes left to play, Daniel Nyambose replaced Justice Zulu for the visitors who nearly pulled one back in the 85th minute when Chirwa lost possession to Stambuli, who failed to score with the goal wide open.
It was a better performance from the lower division side in the final period but Bullets were too good in the opening half to bang in four goals and progress to the round-of-16 where we will face either Balaka FC or Chilumba Barracks who will play on Sunday at Balaka Stadium.
After starting the FDH Bank Cup defence with a comfortable victory midweek, Pasuwa’s men will not rest as they will be travelling to Lilongwe on Friday for a TNM Super League match against Kamuzu Barracks on Saturday at Civo Stadium.