Nickson Nyasulu welcomes competition at FCB Nyasa Big Bullets’ central defence and believes the coming of Clyde Senaji and Collins Okumu has pushed him to work hard and be a better centre-half.
The People’s Team has five defenders including Nyasulu, Senaji, Okumu, Kesten Simbi and John Lanjesi battling for two central defensive positions in Kalisto Pasuwa’s starting XI.
Before the arrival of the two Kenyan defenders last month following the release of Isaac Badu and Hadji Wali, only Simbi was Pasuwa’s regular and Nyasulu did not have a lot of game time as Lanjesi was out due to a knee injury.
This season, Nyasulu has already had two starts partnering Senaji in central defence and captaining Bullets in the NBS Bank Charity Shield against Mighty Mukuru Wanderers and the opening match of the TNM Super League away to Silver Strikers in the absence of vice and third captains, Precious Sambani and Gomezgani Chirwa, respectively.
During our 4-0 win over Mafco in the second match of the 2023 Super League campaign last Sunday, the 25-year-old was an unused substitute as Simbi replaced him to partner Senaji who appears to have sealed a regular starting berth at The People’s Team.
Nyasulu told club media: “It’s good to compete for a place in the starting XI because that’s what we show in training and try to show in the game and in the end it’s the coach that picks the team. I would be really happy to stay in the team, but it’s decided game by game and I have to keep working hard for me to continue playing.”
“At Bullets, I have won everything domestically since joining the first team from the reserves [in 2019]. I owe this to my fellow defenders who have pushed and continue pushing me to do well. They have been very supportive throughout, and it’s something which keeps me going because we play as a team, and we also succeed as a team.”
He cherished wearing the team’s armband in the two games he started this season.
“Honestly, I had never thought of captaining the team in front of thousands of our supporters, but the coach, who has mentored me, trusted me to lead the team and I don’t take this for granted.”
Nyasulu also reflected on the competition he had in the 2022 season that also nicked his chances of playing for the Malawi National Football Team at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations finals in Cameroon despite being part of all the qualifying matches the previous year.
“It was a difficult period for me because every player wants to play in the team and I wasn’t playing regularly, but I had to keep on pushing because I knew there was something I wasn’t doing right. I had to work on it so that I was brought back into the starting XI and here I am. I have played in the two [opening] games and I believe if I keep on working hard, I will continue playing [and probably find myself back in the national team]”.
The defender, who is nearing 90 appearances for The People’s Team, has scored seven goals. Last season, he made 20 appearances in all competitions, winning the TNM Super League and the FDH Bank Cup.
He scored the winning penalty against Silver Strikers in the 2021 Airtel Top 8 Cup final and he describes it as the “proudest moment” of his career.
“To step up and score that winning penalty was the proudest moment of my career. You know the feeling of scoring a goal that saw your team winning a trophy is something extraordinary and I will never forget that day. I keep on refreshing the memories because it doesn’t happen twice, but I was privileged to take the final penalty, and I scored.”