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Match report: Chitipa 0-3 Bullets

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FCB Nyasa Big Bullets’ winless run in the 2024 TNM Super League campaign ended on Sunday afternoon following a 3-0 triumph over Chitipa United at Karonga Stadium.

Babatunde Adepoju, Ephraim Kondowe and Patrick Mwaungulu were on target as The People’s Team recorded the second biggest win over Chitipa away in Karonga.

The last time Bullets registered such a margin over the Northern Region-based side away from home was in 2019.

It was a sweet revenge for Kalisto Pasuwa’s men who lost 1-0 in the last meeting between the two teams last season.

What happened

Straight from last weekend’s disappointing goalless draw at home to Mighty Tigers, Pasuwa received a massive boost when several of his players, who were not available due to illness, recovered early for this fixture.

The Zimbabwean made six changes to the side that drew at home, with Innocent Nyasulu, Lloyd Aaron, Babatunde, Blessings Mpokera, Mwaungulu and Anthony Mfune returning to the First XI.

The opening minutes saw the hosts pressing for an early lead on a waterlogged surface due to heavy rains being experienced in the Northern Region, but Bullets’ back-four covered Nyasulu and dealt with all the aerial threats with ease.

The two teams kept on struggling to cope with the condition of the field, but Jackson Beza, Rajab Nyirenda and Kenson Mlenga posed more threat with their high-pressing football.

Bullets’ first shot at goal came in the 20th minute when Precious Sambani’s cross found Mwaungulu unmarked on the edge of the penalty box, and the winger chested the ball down before releasing a thunderous shot that was well saved by Kennedy Nakhaima for a corner-kick which was easily defended by the hosts.

Three minutes later, Bullets made a breakthrough brilliantly. Nakhaima misjudged a cross from Mwaungulu and allowed the ball to land at Adepoju who made a quick turn before firing at goal to beat the shot-stopper in the line of duty, 0-1.

At the other end, a freekick from Nyirenda closer to Bullets’ penalty area went wide in the 32nd minute.

The visitors should have doubled their lead in the 35th minute when Mwaungulu released Babatunde in a one-on-one situation with Nakhaima, but the forward volleyed over the crossbar when the goalkeeper had already left the goal wide open and all that was needed was just a simple touch to completely dash the hosts’ hopes of making a comeback.

Babatunde’s miss could have proved costly as Chitipa launched a counter-attack from their right side, but Nyirenda saw his goal-bound shot well cleared by Gomezgani Chirwa before crossing the line. Both Sambani and Nyasulu were beaten in their defensive zones by the attacking midfielder.

The first half ended 0-1 in favour of The People’s Team.

After the recess, both teams started very slowly as the wet pitch started taking a toll on players. Mabuchi Msiska came in for Mlenga in the 57th minute. The winger was tightly marked by Sambani.

It was a final half of fewer chances, with the majority of action being played in the midfield where Aaron and Petro were operating for Bullets while Gideon Sululu and Msiska were playing for the visitors.

Petro had an opportunity to register his name on the scoresheet, but his weaker shot was easily saved by Nakhaima, from there, the hosts pressed forward in search for an equaliser, but Bright Masebo, who came in for Stimela Muyira, fired wide when the ball landed in his path from Blessings Joseph’s cross.

With 67 minutes played, Pasuwa brought in Kondowe and Ronald Chitiyo for Babatunde and Mfune.

The two players, alongside Mwaungulu, Petro and Aaron, caused more havoc on Chitipa’s defence as Chris Lwemba and Lamson Lukali’s defensive partnership failed to handle their speed in the offensive zone.

As Bullets pressed, they opened up a space to their left side by allowing Nyirenda to move into the area, but his shot was cleared by Nyasulu for a corner kick which was easily handled by the shot-stopper.

Chitiyo almost doubled Bullets’ lead when he exchanged passes with Kondowe, but his attempt came off the post in unbelievable circumstances, keeping the home side’s hopes of equalising alive.

But, Kondowe buried them with a stunning goal in the 78th minute when he made a brilliant finish from Mwaungulu’s long ball that caught Lwemba napping in the defensive line. The forward chipped the ball over the advanced and defenceless Nakhaima to double Bullets’ lead, 0-2.

The routing was completed in the 81st minute when Kondowe dribbled past Lukali before sliding the ball to Mwaungulu who made a first-time drive to beat Nakhaima to his right-hand side, 0-3.

The combination of  Mwaungulu, Kondowe and Chitiyo was a thorn in the flesh for the hosts who were struggling to handle the trio.

Kondowe nearly doubled his tally on the afternoon with yet another volley, but Nakhaima was equal to the task with another important save for Elvis Kafoteka’s side.

Precious Phiri, Kenneth Pasuwa and Chawanangwa Gumbo came in for Mwaungulu, Petro and Aaron in the 86th minute.

Phiri almost found the back of the net but his strike missed the upright with just an inch.

In the additional minutes, Kondowe nearly grabbed our fourth goal when he was set through by Gumbo, but his effort missed the goal when Nakhaima was already beaten, and in the end, we collected our first three points in our third league match of the campaign.

Starting XI: I. Nyasulu (GK), Mujuru, Chirwa, Sambani, Mpokera, Petro (Gumbo 86′), Aaron (Pasuwa 86′), Mwaungulu (Phiri 86′), Mfune (Chitiyo 69′) Babatunde (Kondowe 69′).

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