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Bullets U-19s reach African Herbal Mixture final

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Comfortably, FCB Nyasa Big Bullets U-19s have booked themselves a ticket to the 2024 African Herbal Mixture Cup final following a 2-0 triumph over Izo-Izo at the Mpira Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

After winning the Four Nations Tournament with Malawi Under-20, Misheck Biliat ran the show for Yamikani Fodya’s Bullets Youth, opening the scoring and setting up Brian Mwase for the second.

What happened

Lines were drawn from the start of the tie as our youngsters were on the side constantly wanting to invade the restricted areas up the pitch while Izo-Izo chose to sit in low blocks hoping to explode on the counter.

So sharp on the ball, our boys did not let their anxiety for a goal grow as Biliati, captain on the day, put young Maule ahead with a wonder strike inside the opening 15 minutes.

Just a few yards off the halfway line, the tricky shirt number 7, cleverly read Daniil Makunganya, the Izo-Izo goalkeeper, being off his line and flew the ball into the net to make it 1-0 for us.

In response and on a rare moment in the tie, Izo-Izo busted forward and nearly put it level when Fred Fundi found himself in a one-on-one position, but Dan Matumala was alert to keep the lead for the defending champions intact with some good piece of goalkeeping.

On a sweeping counterattack, Bullets found themselves on the other end where Biliati, taking things personally, pulled out a sweet dink of a pass to spot his fellow midfielder Mwase, who equally produced a sumptuous first-time finish over the top of Makunganya to make it 2-0 to the good.

From then on, the opponents were left to deal with the menacing pace and skill of our wide boys, Biliati and Maxwell Sakanamba who successfully dribbled past their marker on five occasions and created chance after chance until the halftime break.

Davie Matemba’s Izo-Izo were expected to be battered in the second half but somehow returned from the interval much better as they enjoyed some spells of possession in our half.

Looking to regain authority, Fodya made four changes in two windows which instantly put our under-19s in a good position to control the game.

Biliati agonizingly came close, Sakanamba caused havoc, and substitute Charles Kasangala was slippery with the ball that the opponents craved for the final whistle as the reigning champions threatened without stopping in the final stages of the tie.

Although they improved in the second half, Izo-Izo still failed to turn things around as young Maule’s quality made the difference. 2-0 the semi-final finished.

What it means

The result now gives our boys a big chance to win the cup back-to-back after they clinched its inaugural edition last year.

To battle against them in the final is Manchester Motors F.C., who beat Young Stars 2-1 later on Sunday afternoon.

Man of the Match

He finished the game with a goal and an assist and found joy cruising through the right-hand side with pace and cheeky footwork. He created numerous chances and was unlucky not to see his moments of individual brilliance not turning into goals. There were other awesome performances but Biliati truly was a marvel to watch on the day.

Coach Fodya’s reaction

“From afar, one could think it was a simple game but it seemed so because we got the goals. We stressed to the boys that our game plan was to get an early goal and rule the game and it worked. Second half we told them that if they were not going to score, they must not concede and that is why it has worked. All in all, it was not an easy match.

What’s next

All focus now will be on the upcoming final against Manchester Motors, who have become quite a rival of their own in recent times.

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