FCB Nyasa Big Bullets’ hopes of reaching the CAF Champions League group stages came to an end following a 4-0 defeat, 5-0 on aggregate to TP Mazembe away in Lubumbashi on Saturday afternoon.
The hosts, who went into the final tie of the second preliminary round with a 1-0 advantage, scored four goals in the opening half as Kalisto Pasuwa’s men suffered a heavy defeat at the roaring Stade TP Mazembe.
In an attempt to contain the home side early in the half, Pasuwa made a tactical change to his side as he changed his attacking system as he paired Frank Willard and Clyde Senaji in defensive midfield, with Peter Banda, who was doubtful as the matchday approached, playing behind the front three comprising McFallen Mgwira, Lanjesi Nkhoma and Maxwell Phodo.
Collins Okumu, Gomegzani Chirwa, Yamikani Fodya and Precious Phiri were trusted in defence providing cover to goalkeeper Clever Mkungula.
The unusual system left Bullets exposed especially in midfield where Mazembe were comfortable to easily break into our defensive zone and they took an early lead in the fourth minute through captain Kevin Mundeko Zatu, 1-0.
Bullets looked hopeful six minutes later as Phiri won a free kick on the edge of the area but Banda’s effort from the set piece landed directly at the goalkeeper Ibrahim Bosso.
As the Malawi champions tried to regroup from conceding that early goal, Glody Likonza was on target to score Mazembe’s second goal in the 11th minute as Bullets failed to clear the ball out of danger after Mkungula had made a save from close range, 2-0.
The hosts kept asking for more as Bullets looked shaky at the back and Cheick Fofafa, who scored the only goal in the first leg in Lilongwe, pounced again after Chirwa lost the ball in the danger area for the Mazembe forward to pounce at the defenceless Mkungula.
Trailing 3-0 in the opening 20 minutes forced Pasuwa to make three changes just after the half-hour mark as he withdrew Banda, Okumu and Mgwira for Chawanangwa Gumbo, Ernest Petro and Hassan Kajoke.
As the changes looked to be working for The People’s Team, we managed to contain the home side in the central area as we started playing our usual passing and offensive game, but another misplaced pass from Chirwa to his goalkeeper gifted the visitors their fourth goal Merceil Vumbi five minutes before the half-time break and it was 4-0 going into recess.
Pasuwa made a change at half-time as Chirwa was replaced by Nickson Nyasulu in defence and Bullets started to look a better side in all departments. We started tracking down our opponents and were able to break into the opposition’s half looking for a goal.
In the 66th minute, Petro got the better of his opponent and managed to create shooting space, unfortunately, the Bullets no.10 had his weak attempt off target.
Mazembe made three changes in the 70th minute when Rabhi Ataya replaced the injured Fofana, while Soze Zemanga and Alex Ngonga came on for Boubacar Hainikoye and Likonza.
The Ravens reawakened after making those substitutions with Ataya and Ngonga looking too dangerous, fortunately for Bullets, they kept sending their attempts off target.
Nkhoma had a chance to pull one back in the 74th minute but our leading scorer in the TNM Super League had an effort too easy to beat Bosso in goal for Mazembe.
Ngonga nearly gave the home side a fifth goal of the day but the Malawi international made a brilliant save to deny the substitute a chance to register his name on the scoreline.
With three minutes of stoppage time added to the clock, the two sides could not find the back of the net and that was all for the half, 4-0 on the day and 5-0 on aggregate as Bullets bowed out of the CAF Champions League in the second preliminary round.
Bullets will be shifting focus to domestic football with a home fixture against Bangwe All Stars at Kamuzu Stadium on Wednesday, before travelling to the capital Lilongwe for the FDH Bank Cup final against Mafco on Sunday.