Lanjesi Nkhoma was left out of the starting XI for the Blantyre derby at Kamuzu Stadium on Sunday, but head coach Kalisto Pasuwa explained why the FCB Nyasa Big Bullets leading scorer was benched.
The forward, TNM Super League’s joint-leading scorer with 14 goals alongside Dedza Dynamos’ Clement Nyondo, only played in the last five minutes of the 1-1 stalemate against rivals Mighty Mukuru Wanderers.
Pasuwa defended his decision to drop Nkhoma to the bench when he is chasing the Golden Boot this campaign, saying the youngster is still learning, hence the need to carefully manage the Bullets reserves graduate.
“He is still learning. If you take him to say he is chasing the Golden Boot then you are killing him. We need to manage him. He is one player who has been carrying the team and he needs to play every game and we have been playing him in each game this season every three days and he covers a lot of distances, so we needed to rest him so that we get the best out of him when he plays next match,” commented Pasuwa.
On the outcome of the match, Pasuwa said it was a point gained rather than two points dropped.
“It’s a point gained. It was them who badly needed all the points. We only came to manage the game, and we got what we wanted. They are the ones who needed all the points because of their position in the log table. So, I am happy with this point gained,” he commented.
The tactician was also quick to rue the missed chances by his boys in the first half, saying The People’s Team should have buried Wanderers in the opening period.
“It was a game that we created chances in the first half, but we ended up missing them. Our opponents got one chance, and they punished us, but that’s what football is all about at this level.
“In the second half, we tried to push for a goal, and we tried to be offensive and got the equalizer, but it was in the dying minutes where you could see the players getting tired and these guys were all over us, but again, we were trying to manage spaces in terms of defending,” reacted Pasuwa.
He also defended his charges for managing the game despite showing some signs of fatigue.
“I am not concerned with how we finished the match because we have played so many games, and the players are tired. I expected them to drop after 60 minutes hence you saw us looking for an equalizer which we eventually got in the early minutes of the second half and we knew what was coming from our opponents towards the end of the match.”
Sunday afternoon’s result saw Bullets maintaining their lead at the top of the TNM Super League standings with 54 points, level with Wanderers, but with three games in hand.
Next on the menu is an away assignment against relegation-threatened Red Lions at Balaka Stadium on Wednesday, before proceeding to Lilongwe to face Blue Eagles in another away league fixture on Sunday.