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Match report: Balaka 0 Bullets 3

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A dominant display saw defending champions FCB Nyasa Big Bullets book a place in the quarter-finals of the FDH Bank Cup for a third consecutive season following a 3-0 hammering of Balaka FC at Balaka Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Kalisto Pasuwa welcomed back four national team players and added Stanley Billiat and Nickson Nyasulu to the travelling squad after recovering from injuries.

But Gomezgani Chirwa, Clyde Senaji, Maxwell Phodo, Collins Okumu and Mike Mkwate were out of the encounter due to injuries.

What happened 

From the onset, the visitors were in total control of the proceedings as they passed the ball at will, but making a breakthrough proved to be a very difficult task as they met a resilient defensive back-four of Didra Hussein, Howard Banda, Chikumbutso Makoloni and Anthony Manda.

The first chance of the match saw Hassan Kajoke creating a shooting space for himself in the 18-yard box, but his goal-bound shot was blocked by Manda.

Within the shortest period, Pasuwa’s charges had three attempts at goal, all cleared by either Hassan Muhammad in goals for the hosts or the defence which was defending in numbers to frustrate the visiting team.

Kajoke was at the receiving end of Lungu’s brilliant cross from the left, however, the forward had his powerful header denied by Muhammad for a corner kick, which the hosts easily defended.

The pressure was mounting on Balaka, with Bullets pressing from all angles in search of the much-needed opening goal, but every threat was well dealt with by the home side.

However, the hosts’ resilience was put to a halt by Mwaungulu’s strike in the 31st minute, connecting well from Precious Phiri’s beautiful pass into the six-yard area, 0-1.

Pasuwa made his first change when he brought in Ephraim Kondowe for Anthony Mfune to try to increase the firepower in search of more goals.

In the 40th minute, Muhammad was called into action again to deny Phiri, who produced a thunderous shot outside the penalty area for a corner kick, which made no difference as the visitors cleared the ball away from danger.

With 45 minutes played, Phiri once again combined well with Chawanangwa Gumbo to release Mwaungulu, who nearly doubled his tally, but his volley inside the area went over the crossbar for a goal kick and that was all for the half.

In the final period, Pasuwa suffered a blow when Yamikani Fodya, who, for the third time in a row, played in central defence, sustained a knee injury and was replaced by Nyasulu.

It was a slow start to the half from Bullets, perhaps being hit hard by the hot weather in Balaka District.

The hosts had an opportunity to produce something extraordinary in the 48th minute when Lungu brought down Emmanuel Lifa on the edge of the penalty box, but the freekick went over the crossbar, wasted by Goodson Shonga.

52 minutes on the clock, Kajoke saw his effort ruled out for offside by first assistant referee, Tamandani Sengani.

We doubled our advantage in the 61st minute through Nyasulu.

Mwaungulu turned from a scorer to a provider when his well-taken freekick found the centre-half, who made a first-time connection to beat Muhammad into the bottom corner, 0-2.

Victor Dickson, Innocent Kaliyati and Frank Humba replaced Shonga, Biskot Bakali and Hussein whilst Stanley Billiat and Precious Sambani came on for Lanjesi Nkhoma and Frank Willard in the 65th minute.

Kajoke should have had a goal in the 67th minute when he received a pass from Kondowe but his volley missed Muhammad’s goalpost with an inch.

The forward was again denied an opportunity to register his name on the scoresheet when his strike was again ruled out for offside.

But his time eventually came in the 77th minute when he made a simple tap-in from a Billiat’s flick after the two players beat the offside trap to put the game beyond the hosts’ reach, 0-3.

There was one change made by Bullets in the 85th minute when Eric Kaonga replaced Lungu. It was now time for the defending champions to dance with the ball around as the quarter-final slot was officially confirmed.

Balaka brought in Rafick Kabwazi and Joseph Msiska for Blessings Mwawa and Buba Jack but it was too late as Bullets walked out of the small facility with a victory to progress to the last eight of the prestigious club competition.

They join Mafco FC who beat Blue Eagles 5-3 on penalties on Thursday after the regulation time ended 2-2, and Moyale Barracks who eliminated the 2020/21 winners, Silver Strikers 10-9 on post-match penalties as well following a 1-1 result in normal time.

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