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Pasuwa: It was one of the toughest assignments this season

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Kalisto Pasuwa says Sunday’s Airtel Top 8 semifinal tie against Blue Eagles at Bingu National Stadium was one of the toughest assignments for his FCB Nyasa Big Bullets in domestic competitions this season.

The 2022 winners, who became the first team to reach the final of the competition for the fourth time since its launch in 2017, had to endure a very nervous ending to the match.

Bullets scored two quick goals in the opening period through Hassan Kajoke and Lanjesi Nkhoma before they allowed Eagles back into the game through Christopher Gototo’s powerful header just ten minutes into the second half.

After restoring our two-goal advantage over the Area 30 side through substitute Ephraim Kondowe, our defensive and goalkeeping error gifted the home side an easy goal through Richard Rapson to set up a nervous ending to the game that The People’s Team eventually won 3-2.

Providing his post-match reaction, Pasuwa admitted that his side’s intensity in the second half dropped down and Bullets was lucky to walk out of the BNS with a win and progress to the final.

“[It was] definitely one of the toughest assignments that we have faced this season. If you can see, the number of games that we have played and the injuries that we have at the moment, have given us problems and also the number of days that we are being given to play these matches. If you can see, we are finding it very difficult to play our usual game,” reacted Pasuwa.

“You saw this game that we played today. We started with high intensity but the boys dropped the tempo due to fatigue as the players were failing to pick up and allowed the opposition to take advantage of that. They made life very difficult for us and it was tough for us to match them, and when they scored their first goal, we knew it was going to be a tough end to the match because they kept on bypassing our midfield to attack from all angles.

“In the last ten minutes, we settled well and scored a goal, but we lost concentration again in defence and at this level, we mustn’t be conceding such kind of goals. Remember, we play in the CAF Champions League and I thought we learnt something from those games but we repeated the very same mistakes and we got punished. It was such a nervous end to the match but glad we walked out with an important victory,” he further explained.

The head also commented on Blessings Mpokera’s sending off as the defender-cum-midfielder received his marching orders after picking a second yellow card for delaying play. Pasuwa described it as an “avoidable” incident.

“On Blessings Mpokera, who got a second yellow card at a time when we were tired and needed every player on the field, and then he got the unnecessary second yellow card from an avoidable situation, making it more difficult for us to contain a high pressing side. But we learn through these mistakes and we hope the boy will behave better in future to avoid a repeat of what has happened.”

The tactician went on to express confidence that the hard-fought win would motivate his players, who were mentally down following the 1-0 TNM Super League loss away to Dedza Dynamos last Thursday.

“We tried as much as we could to encourage them to move on. We didn’t train much because of the number of days, but we worked so much on the mental aspect of it. The morale was down and maybe picking up this win will make them change in terms of mentality aspect.”

Up next for Bullets is another important trip away to Karonga United for a potential league decider on Wednesday before returning to conclude the campaign with a home fixture against Silver Strikers on Sunday at Kamuzu Stadium.

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