Nyasa Big Bullets have no reason to be under any pressure as they face Mighty Wanderers in the semi-finals of the Airtel Top 8 at Kamuzu Stadium on Saturday, head coach Kalisto Pasuwa has said.
While Bullets’ record in the domestic league has been outstanding, The People’s Team has not done so well in cup competitions in the past four years.
Before being crowned the 2020/21 TNM Super League champions in October, Pasuwa’s side was coming from elimination from the FDH Bank Cup, losing to Silver Strikers in the quarter-finals three months ago.
Bullets will be going into the 2021 Airtel Top 8 semi-finals almost three years after failing to win the silverware in 2018 when they lost to Blue Eagles in the final.
Having won a cup competition in 2017, Bullets have been thoroughbreds in Super League campaigns the past six years.
However, Pasuwa is adamant that the status quo is about to change, saying his side will give it all in order to achieve a cup success.
The Bullets head coach spoke to club media ahead of the Blantyre derby against a side that went home with full points in their last meeting in the TNM Super League in September, Wanderers’ first win against The People’s Team in nine years.
He first spoke about the team’s preparations for the semis, a place they booked after defeating MAFCO FC 5-2 on aggregate in the quarter-finals.
“We have been training very well and the boys are eager to go. We had some areas that we have been working on, especially in the defensive part of it where we have been having problems at times and I think being a cup game where you don’t need a draw but a result to take you through, we will throw everything in order for us to come up with a good result,” he said.
The tactician believes that his side’s 1-0 loss to Wanderers almost three months ago was as a result of Bullets’ failure to convert chances into goals, adding his team played better on that day.
“Last time we played them it was a game of chances. They had few chances than us but they took their chance to score and punished us for missing plenty of goal scoring opportunities, so these are big matches where you get one chance, you bury it.
“You don’t need to get more chances for you to win, one chance, one goal, one positive result. And that’s the area we have been working on, plus their [players] mindset so that they go into the game with the positive state of mind,” shared the Zimbabwean.
On whether his side will head into the match under pressure considering the last result at the hands of their cross-city rivals, Pasuwa said:
“I don’t think there is pressure. Yes, it’s a game that we played and lost and I cannot say we were bad, but as I’ve said before, we lost chances that we were supposed to score and I am saying to the guys that these are big games where we need two to three chances for you to take the game home and once we get these chances, we need to have a technique of scoring goals so that by the end of it all we reach the final and focus on winning the cup.”
The last time the two sides met in the semi-finals of this competition was in 2018 at Bingu National Stadium in which Bullets recorded a 2-1 victory over their neighbors, courtesy of second half strikes from Bright Munthali and Chiukepo Msowoya, while Zicco Mkanda, who is now in the red and white camp, scored the Nomads’ consolation goal.
In 2015, Bullets again knocked out Wanderers in the semi-finals of the Carlsberg Cup at Civo Stadium courtesy of a Jimmy Zakazaka’s strike, before another triumph against their neighbors in the 2017 Carlsberg Cup final at the Bingu National Stadium.