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Match report: Bullets 2-3 Silver Strikers

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FCB Nyasa Big Bullets suffered a 3-2 defeat to Silver Strikers in a ceremonial match to officially launch the Castel Challenge Cup at Bingu National Stadium on Saturday.

At some point, The People’s Team was 2-0 down but fought back to level 2-2 before conceding again towards the end of the match.

Assistant coach Peter Mponda made a wholesale of changes to the starting eleven as he handed several fringe players a start against the Central Bankers, replacing most of our regulars who watched the game from the terraces.

What happened

Bullets started brightly in the opening period as they pressed in search of an early goal and we should have opened the scoring in the 5th minute when Gomezgani Chirwa saw Anthony Mfune in the area and delivered a beautiful cross but the forward failed to pounce from close range.

In the 8th minute, Righteous Banda made his way into the penalty area and released a powerful shot that hit the upright, and Mfune could not finish from the rebound as he was blocked by Chisomo Mpachika.

Our number 21 thought he had given us a lead in the 10th minute, but his goal was ruled out for offside.

The Bankers then settled down through Uchizi Vunga, who took charge of the midfield alongside Tathedwa Willard and Chinsinsi Maonga.

Their first attempt at goal came in the 14th minute through Maonga, whose freekick went straight into the hands of Rabson Chiyenda.

Silver were in total control of the match as Bullets’ midfield failed to handle Vunga, who was everywhere, making things happen for his side.

The final ten minutes of the match belonged to the Bankers who made several dangerous moves into our defensive zone but thrice, they attacked and got disappointed with their own level of finishing as they allowed the hosts to make some timely clearances through Kesten Simbi.

But with one minute added to the clock, Willard produced a magical moment with his left foot, beating Chiyenda to his near post and into the net, 0-1, and that was all for the half.

In the second half, Mponda made four substitutions to his side, bringing on board Hassan Kajoke, MacFallen Mgwira, Thomson Magombo and Maxwell Phodo for Mfune, Chirwa, Kenneth Pasuwa and Henry Kabichi.

These changes improved Bullets in all aspects and they should have levelled in the 48th minute when Mgwira got the better of Emmanuel Muyila before sending the ball into the box but there was no red shirt around, allowing Mpachika to clear the ball away from the area.

At the other end, Atusaye Nyondo’s goal-bound ball was cleared by Collins Okumu before crossing the line for a corner kick, which was well-defended by the hosts.

The People’s Team was denied another opportunity to equalize in the 50th minute when Kajoke set up Mike Mkwate, who saw his attempt hitting the post.

Just after missing that chance, Bullets conceded again in similar fashion to the first goal.

Magombo lost possession to Maonga, who switched the ball to Zebron Kalima before finding Vunga unmarked on the edge of the box.

The former Mzuzu Warriors midfielder wasted no time by releasing a thunderous shot, which was just too much for Chiyenda to stop, 0-2.

Silver made some changes by introducing goalkeeper Emmas Nyirenda, Innocent Shema and Maxwell Paipi for Pilirani Mapira, Willard and Adel Kaduya, who was earlier denied by Chiyenda when his powerful shot was stopped by our goalkeeper.

Bullets capitalized and reduced the arrears in the 71st minute through Precious Phiri, who scored a cracker outside the penalty box, 1-2.

Maule kept on pushing for an equalizer and should have levelled in the 75th minute when Kajoke’s dangerous cross caught Silver’s defence napping and created an opportunity for Phodo who fired over the crossbar when the goalkeeper was already beaten in the line of duty.

But the equalizing goal eventually came in the 81st minute through Kajoke, who beat the offside trap to smash the ball into the net, beating Nyirenda, who could only see the net shaking and Bullets celebrating, 2-2.

As the hosts were busy celebrating the equalizing goal, Silver restored their lead in dramatic circumstances when Bullets defenders failed to clear a long ball from Mpachika to find Vunga in the attacking zone before firing past the advanced Chiyenda into the net in the 83rd minute, 2-3.

Bullets kept on pushing for a leveller but they suffered a setback in stoppage time when Mkwate sustained a serious injury and was replaced by Ephraim Kondowe, whilst Emmanuel Kaunga came in for Maonga to defend their slender lead, and in the end, Bullets, despite fighting tooth and nail, suffered their first defeat to the Bankers in three meetings this year.

Speaking to the media after the match, Mponda conceded defeat but he was very proud of his charges’ reaction to fight back from 2-0 to 2-2 before conceding the third goal towards the end of the match.

“Defeat accepted. We paid too much respect to them, especially when they were attacking, and when we conceded the two goals, we fought back to level. We thought we were going to find the winning goal, but we relaxed and conceded again.

“It’s bad that we lost, but on a positive note, I am happy with the reaction from the boys after those two goals,” commented our assistant coach who was in charge following head coach Kalisto Pasuwa’s absence as he is yet to return from Zimbabwe where he was attending training.

Mponda also singled out some individual performances from his players, saying he is now convinced that they will play a role in one of the longest and busiest seasons in the 2023 Malawian football calendar.

“I should also salute some of the boys who had a grand game today. The likes of Righteous Banda, Thomson Magombo, MacFallen Mgwira, Mike Mkwate, Hassan Kajoke and Kesten Simbi are some of the lads who played to my satisfaction and I am pretty sure that they will be given a chance to contribute to the team’s success this season.”

Commenting on Mkwate’s injury, Mponda described it as a massive blow.

“The defeat is not painful more than Mkwate’s injury. You saw how he mesmerized the midfield, and it’s very unfortunate that we lost him to that awful injury. We are hoping to see him back to his feet.”

What next

The People’s Team will now shift focus to the midweek fixture at home against Ndirande Stars in the FDH Bank Cup round-of-32 on Wednesday afternoon.

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