FCB Nyasa Big Bullets came from 2-0 down to stage an incredible 3-2 victory over the stubborn Civil Service United in the TNM Super League at Kamuzu Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.
The visitors stunned the defending champions as they scored two quick goals through former Bullets forward Luke Chima in the 19th minute and Binwell Katinji three minutes later to take an early 2-0 lead.
With the two-goal lead, Civil, who over the years have been walloped against The People’s Team in away fixtures, looked so much in control of the tie that it seemed we were headed to go for the break with a two-goal deficit.
But our leading scorer this season, Lanjesi Nkhoma, pulled one at the stroke of 45 minutes to ease the pressure after he had been denied by Tione Tembo from the spot five minutes earlier following a foul on Patrick Mwaungulu in the area.
Ephraim Kondowe, who came on as a substitute alongside Peter Banda and Frank Willard at the start of the second period, gave Bullets an equalizer.
Banda, making his second debut after rejoining The People’s Team 24 hours earlier, and Mwaungulu combined well in the box to find the forward, who pounced to make another immediate impact after he did the same as he came off the bench to score the winner in our 1-0 victory over Dragon FC in the CAF Champions League at Bingu National Stadium on Sunday.
Mwuangulu, who was voted Man of the Match on the afternoon, then completed the incredible comeback with a screamer outside the box after he was set up by Ernest Petro to send the ball into the far-right corner.
Reacting to the home victory against a side that nearly caused an upset, head coach Kalisto Pasuwa admitted that his squad looked tired despite staging that stunning comeback in the midweek fixture 72 hours after playing another game away in Lilongwe.
“Legs are looking tired if you look on the boys. We were very slow in the first half even though we tried as much as we could to bring in fresh legs, but you could see that the travelling part of it affected the boys as they were slow to the action. As the game progressed, you could see that we were trying to come up into the match, but it was never an easy task for us.
“On the goals we conceded, it was all about [lack of] concentration and also our late response to the ball when defending, but that’s how football is. We corrected our mistakes, and we started coming up in the game, and we reduced the arrears in the additional minutes of the first half. In the second half, the boys came good as we were very offensive and attacked them from all angles to level before getting the winner in the dying minutes,” he explained in his post-match interview.
The tactician, though impressed with the impact made by his substitutes in the second half, was quick to reveal that at some point in the match, they were also worn out as they couldn’t do more than what was required of them.
“[The subs] definitely changed the heat of the game, but you could see again as the game progressed that Peter and Ephraim went down. We know the time to play them to have an impact, especially Ephraim, who uses much intensity once you introduce him, and he can’t surpass the 60-minute mark before phasing out. We are still assessing as to how we can effectively use him. On Peter, yes, he was good, but we need to do more on him since he was on pre-season [as the Tanzanian league just kicked off].”
The gaffer went on to confess how unimpressed he was with how his team conceded two goals in quick succession, saying: “[Those are] schoolboy blunders. Something we can fix, but very inevitable in football where at times, when you sleep, you are punished hence seeing us coming back and correcting the mistakes and went on to win the match. It was a tough match, Civil really gave us a bitter test of our own medicine but kudos to the boys for not giving up.”
Wednesday’s victory took Bullets back to the top of the TNM Super League standings with 37 points, a point above Mighty Mukuru Wanderers, who come second, and third-placed Chitipa United.
With the international break coming up, Bullets, who have contributed four first-team players to the Malawi squad currently preparing for an Afcon match against Guinea on 9 September, will not be involved until facing TP Mazembe in the second preliminary stages of the CAF Champions League on 17 September.