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Match report: Bullets 4-0 Ekwendeni

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FCB Nyasa Big Bullets cruised to the semi-finals of the Castel Challenge Cup following a 4-0 thumping of Ekwendeni Hammers at Kamuzu Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.

Hassan Kajoke netted a brace as Patrick Mwaungulu and Precious Sambani each had a goal to set up a semi-final showdown against crosstown rivals, Mighty Mukuru Wanderers.

What happened 

Hungry to progress to the next round, Kalisto Pasuwa’s men started on the front foot and had more than five set pieces inside the visitors’ half early in the opening period.

Sambani was handed an opportunity from a free kick closer to Hammers’ penalty area, but the skipper blasted his effort over the crossbar.

Moments later, Patrick Mwaungulu’s delivery from yet another free kick was well dealt with by goalkeeper Innocent Kamwambi, who replaced Ekwendeni’s first-choice shot-stopper, Micah Chiyenda, a brother to Bullets’ Rabson.

The People’s Team broke the deadlock in the 11th minute through Kajoke, who tapped in from Ernest Petro’s delivery that originated from a shot corner taken by Mwaungulu, 1-0.

We should have doubled our lead in the 15th minute when Kajoke found Maxwell Phodo inside the area, unfortunately, the forward, who dribbled past three opposition defenders before shooting at goal, was denied by the woodwork.

A minute later, it was 2-0 after Lanjesi Nkhoma exchanged passes with Sambani, and the left wingback delivered an exquisite cross into the box to find Mwaungulu who connected home from close range.

At this point, the visitors were yet to launch meaningful attacks on Bullets as the hosts kept passing the ball at will and were very dangerous on the counter.

It took more than half an hour for Elias Chirambo’s men to have a shot at goal. This attempt came in the 33rd minute through Jimmy Msiska, who was denied by Richard Chimbamba, his first serious involvement in the match.

With 36 minutes played, Nkhoma made his way into the offensive zone before creating shooting space for himself, but his attempt was denied by Kamwambi’s save.

But the visiting goalkeeper could not do anything in the 39th minute when Mwaungulu set up Kajoke clear on sight. The forward unleashed a powerful strike to extend our lead, 3-0.

Hammers were able to win back the ball, but whenever in attack, they were easily losing possession to the hosts who were very quick in tracking, area recovery and when attacking.

After the recess, Blessings Mpokera came on for Clyde Senaji in central defence to partner Nickson Nyasulu.

It was a slow start in the final half, with Bullets slowing down in creating chances while Hammers were more defensive probably to avoid collateral damage.

Mwaungulu should have doubled his tally in the 47th minute when he made his way into Hammers’ penalty box, but his effort was parried out of play by Kamwambi for a corner kick.

From the set piece, the midfielder played a short one to Nkhoma, who sent a diagonal ball to the far end. Nyasulu arrived on time, but he blasted his effort over the crossbar when Kamwambi was nowhere near his goal area.

Chirambo introduced the fresh legs of Samson Chiona and Brian Phiri for Sammy Phiri and Wongani Lungu as the visitors hoped to get something out of the game.

With an hour played, Phodo dribbled past two Ekwendeni Hammers defenders before being brought down by Chikumbutso Henderson inside the penalty box, but the centre referee, Eness Gumbo, who was very close to the incident, waved play on.

That was all for the forward who picked an injury following the challenge and was replaced by Peter Banda.

Brian Phiri nearly reduced the arrears when he connected Blessings Singini’s delivery from a freekick, but he saw his header inside the six-yard area going off target.

Pasuwa made a double change in the 68th minute when he introduced Ephraim Kondowe and Chawanangwa Gumbo for Kajoke and Petro.

Kondowe was on the pitch for a few minutes as he sustained an injury in the 76th minute when he was shoved by his opponent in the air as he attempted to win the ball in the attacking area. The forward was replaced by Stanley Billiat.

The match was put beyond the visitors’ reach in the 77th minute through Sambani’s excellent goal. The Bullets captain calmly controlled the ball outside the area before unleashing a rocket to beat Kamwambi in the line of duty, 4-0.

There were a few more chances for Bullets towards the end of the match, but Gumbo, Billiat, Banda and Nkhoma all missed from close range, and in the end, The People’s Team progressed to the Castel Challenge Cup last four.

What it means

The midweek victory over Ekwendeni Hammers means Bullets have secured a third semi-final in all three domestic knockout competitions this season.

Maule will now face Wanderers in the big Blantyre derby at a venue and date to be announced by the Football Association of Malawi.

In other quarter-final matches, Silver Strikers thumped Blue Eagles 4-2 to set up another cracking semi-final tie against Bangwe All Stars.

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