Match report: Bullets 1-1 Silver (Pen 4-2)


FCB Nyasa Big Bullets completed their first treble in years after coming from behind to win the Castel Challenge Cup following a 4-2 penalty shootout victory over Silver Strikers at the Bingu National Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The People’s Team went into Saturday’s final seeking a third trophy of the season after retaining the TNM Super League and the FDH Bank Cup.

The Area 47 side opened the scoring through Atusaye in the eighth minute but Lanjesi Nkhoma cancelled their early lead through a fantastic strike six minutes before the half-hour mark to get Kalisto Pasuwa’s men back in the game.

What happened

Pasuwa made three changes to his starting XI that defeated Mighty Mukuru Wanderers by the same margin in the Castel Challenge Cup semi-finals at the Kamuzu Stadium last Sunday.

Goalkeeper Richard Chimbamba replaced Rabson Chiyenda between the sticks while Nickson Nyasulu paved the way for Blessings Mpokera in defence and Chawanagwa Gumbo came on for Stanley Billiat.

Pieter De Jhong’s men were dominant in the opening minutes of the tie and it wasn’t a surprise to see them taking a lead in the eighth minute through Nyondo, who produced a powerful header from Duncan Nyoni’s well-taken corner kick to beat Chimbamba in the line of duty, 0-1.

The goal saw the visitors sitting back to defend their slender lead and ended up inviting pressure from Bullets who were now looking for a response before the end of the first half.

Gumbo, who was an unused substitute against Wanderers in the semis, created Bullets’ first realistic goal-scoring opportunity, but he took time to react and allowed Emmanuel Kaunga to intervene.

Kaunga’s clearance landed straight at Precious Phiri, who made a run into the offensive zone before exchanging passes with Maxwell Phodo, who then found Lanjesi Nkhoma unmarked inside the penalty area, unfortunately, the winger fired wide.

Bullets kept on having the majority of the possession and would have wondered how they didn’t level the scoreline through Phodo in the 15th minute, but the visitors kept out two goal-bound shots in quick succession, one of which was deflected over the crossbar.

The pressure finally paid off for The People’s Team in the 24th minute when Gumbo made a run into the final third before sending an excellent pass to Nkhoma, who got the better of Emmanuel Kaunga before hitting the ball with power to beat Pilirani Mapira, who could only watch the net shaking, 1-1.

Bullets kept on pushing, and there was a moment of brilliance when they kept on passing the ball for more than ten minutes as the visitors were nowhere near the action area, but the hosts kept on missing chance after chance to keep their opponents into the game.

Thrice, Phodo fired wide when passing the ball to his teammate was the best option, but he decided to take things into his own hands, wasting two chances in succession to the disappointment of the red and white fans.

At the other end, Chimwemwe Idana, who was mostly silent throughout the match, tried to launch a counter-attack, but all his runs were challenged by Yankho Singo, who pocketed the pacey midfielder and gave him no chance to manoeuvre around.

With 38 minutes played, Patrick Mwaungulu’s brilliant goal-bound freekick beat Mapira, but Maxwell Paipi rescued De Jhong’s side with an intelligent clearance.

The Malawi champions were all over the place, passing the ball at will and forcing Silver to be second on the ball, but Pasuwa’s men were very wasteful in front of goal, the latest being Nkhoma who sent his weaker shot straight at Mapira and that was all for the half.

The opening ten minutes of the final period saw much huff and puff from both teams, but very little end product, which included a long-range right-footed effort from Mwaungulu that sailed over the bar.

Ball possession was still in the hands of the Bullets, but they lacked the finishing composure in the final third to punish the Central Bankers who were mostly second on the ball.

Silver’s closest chance came in the 58th minute when Patrick Macheso, another silent player on the day, made a run before sending a dangerous cross bound for Nyondo, but Chimbamba was very much alert with a timely intervention.

With the hour-mark played, tempers started flying high, forcing Gift Chicco to flash yellow cards on Nyoni, Paipi and Singo, a clear indication that at this juncture, the match could have gone to either side.

Pasuwa’s side suffered a huge setback in the 65th minute when Chimbamba landed awkwardly when he made a brilliant save and got injured in the process. He was rushed to the hospital and was replaced by Clever Mkungula, who was making his first appearance since August.

De Jhong brought in Zebron Kalima and George Chaomba for Nyoni and Nyondo to try to improve his attacking prowess.

Chaomba was involved in the 70th minute when he found himself on the receiving end of Paipi’s pass, but the forward couldn’t believe it as his effort was well saved by Mkungula for a corner kick which Bullets easily defended.

At this moment, the midfield battle was the highlight of the match as Idana was heavily closed down by Singo, and he couldn’t do anything with the ball, a situation that saw Bullets making dangerous runs into the opposition’s box, but Phodo missed a chance in the 74th minute when his volley went over the crossbar with Mapira already beaten in the line of duty.

Ephraim Kondowe and Hassan Kajoke were introduced by Pasuwa in the 80th minute for Phodo and Nkhoma.

Immediately after coming in, Kondowe was denied by Mapira, who made a brilliant save to deny the forward from winning it for Bullets.

Penalties were imminent and this saw Pasuwa introducing Yamikani Fodya and Nickson Nyasulu for Mwaungulu and Petro.

There was a last chance for Silver, but Idana was once again late, allowing Gomezgani Chirwa, who partnered with Clyde Senaji in defence, to make a crucial clearance.

In the shootout, Bullets scored four of their penalties through Fodya, Kajoke, Senaji and Precious Phiri while Chinsinsi Maonga, who replaced Macheso, and Nickson Mwase, missed from 12 yards to send Bullets fans into massive celebrations.

What it means

Saturday’s victory means Bullets have so far won three of the four trophies in the land as Pasuwa seeks his first quadruple since the Zimbabwean took over the reins at The People’s Team in 2018.

What Next

The next assignment for Pasuwa’s men is the Airtel Top 8 Cup final against Mafco FC next week.

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