Nyasa Big Bullets moved to third position in the TNM Super League following a goalless draw away to MAFCO at Civo Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
A rather uneventful first-half was followed by a thrilling second stanza, but for all the attacking action from the visitors, a goal could not come despite the hosts playing with one man down in more than 60 minutes.
Straight from their back to back victories last week over Mzuzu Warriors and Mighty Tigers, head coach Kalisto Pasuwa made three changes to the squad that played on Easter Monday, with Precious Sambani, Zicco Mkanda and Meshack Selemani all returning to the first eleven in place of Yamikani Fodya, Bright Munthali and Luke Chima.
It was a cagey start by both teams with the hosts content in defending deep, welcoming opposition on to them.
The People’s Team struggled to play their passing game, resulting into fewer chances created.
The closest chance came through MAFCO’s Joseph Donsa in the 22nd minute when his long range effort was well saved by Richard Chimbamba for a corner, which was easily cleared by captain of the day Chimwemwe Idana.
At the other end, it was Bullets’ turn to test Jailosi Kapalamula manning the goal posts for the Salima-based soldiers.
Meshack Selemani’s well taken volley was saved by Kapalamula before producing another save to deny Idana from finding the back of the net right in the six-yard box.
In the 38th minute, referee Alfred Chilinda sent Maurice Chiumia off for deliberately kicking Mkanda in an off the ball incident.
Moments later, it was Paul Ndlovu who deliberately brought down Seleman, forcing Chilinda to flash a yellow card on the hosts’ skipper.
Seleman was Bullets’ liveliest player on the park and proved to be the main attacking threat as he caused havoc inside MAFCO’s defence, but Mkanda wasn’t clinical enough to put the ball into the back of the net.
In the second half, Idana played a pin-point ball to send McFallen Mgwira through the right flank, but his decision to shoot proved costly as he blasted over the bar when he could have just passed the ball to Mkanda who placed himself in a very good shooting position.
In the 58th minute, Bullets outnumbered the hosts when Mgwira was in possession of the ball, with Mkanda, Idana and Seleman in his sight, but the winger made a selfish decision to dribble past Ndlovu only to lose the ball to opposition.
Bullets made a change in the 61st minute when Ernest Petro came on for Blessings Mpokera, whilst Paul Phiri and Zikani Sichinga replaced Walusungu Mpata and Emmanuel Chipeta for MAFCO.
The hosts had a chance to take the matters into their own hands, but Stain Malata’s freekick was blocked by Sankhani Mkandawire.
Mgwira wasted another ball, this time around, opting to score from the impossible angle when Mkanda and Seleman were unmarked in the six-yard box.
Pasuwa brought in Chiukepo Msowoya for Mgwira as he tried to increase his attacking options for a much needed goal.
However, it was the hosts who should have scored towards the end of the match when Donsa was found unmarked but his shot went wide off Chimbamba’s goal posts.
As Bullets tried to force something out of the match, the soldiers stood firm to frustrate The People’s Team and share the spoils with a goalless 90 minutes.
The draw has seen Bullets moving to third position from fifth with 19 points from ten games.
Pasuwa admitted that his boys did not show up.
“We failed to play in all the attacking phases. Our opponents were too physical and ended up frustrating the boys but that’s part of the game, we move on to the next chapter,” he told the media in a post-match interview at the Civo Stadium.