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Match report: Dedza 1-1 Bullets

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FCB Nyasa Big Bullets started the 2024 TNM Super League campaign with a 1-all draw away to Dedza Dynamos at Dedza Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Ephraim Kondowe came off the bench to replace injured Maxwell Phodo just after 25 minutes and the forward broke the deadlock 12 minutes after coming on. Promise Kamwendo equalized for the home side just after the hour mark for the two sides to share the spoils.

Pasuwa’s starting line-up

The Zimbabwean made five changes to the side that defeated Silver Strikers in the NBS Bank Charity Shield last weekend as he replaced Nickson Nyasulu, Yamikani Mologeni, Blessings Mpokera, Babatunde Adepoju and Precious Phiri with Clyde Senaji, Gomezgani Chirwa, Lloyd Aaron, Patrick Mwaungulu and Lanjesi Nkhoma.

What happened

Our league campaign opener started with both sides looking to go on attack with the match getting stretched from an early stage.

It was Dedza who created their first opportunity just after five minutes through Joseph Balakasi who made an excellent run to his left, but Collin Mujuru diffused the dangerous cross for a corner kick which the visitors easily defended

Pasuwa’s men took some time to settle down and when they did, mostly used the right side of Chikumbutso Salima who was causing problems for Frank Chikufenji, but all his dangerous passes into the area met Justice Chihoma who was very solid at the back for the hosts.

Mwaungulu was denied an opportunity in the 10th minute when his powerful effort from Salima’s pass forced Donnex Mwakasinga into making his first save of the match.

17 minutes on the clock, Mwakasinga was called into action again when he cut short a pass from Mwaungulu that nearly found Salima at the far end. The home side’s goalkeeper made a quick reaction to prevent Bullets from taking an early lead.

The visitors were dealt with a massive blow when Maxwell Phodo was stretchered off after suffering an ankle injury just after 20 minutes on the field and was replaced by Kondowe, our first scorer for the 2024 league campaign.

Picking off from last season’s form as a “super substitute”, Kondowe made an instant impact when he punished the hosts, tapping in from a rebound after Mwaungulu’s long-range strike was fumbled by Mwakasinga to make it 0-1.

The defending champions were in control and dominated the game in all phases of play, but lacked the finishing composure in front of the goal despite attacking with intent from all angles.

Bullets held on to go the break with a slender lead.

After the break, Bullets created another goal-scoring opportunity through Nkhoma who exchanged passes with Mwaungulu, but the wing forward blasted his effort over the bar from close range.

Pasuwa’s men had another opportunity in the 61st minute through a freekick closer to the hosts’ penalty area. But Mwaungulu’s delivery into the box was cleared by Chihoma, who was a solid rock in defence of Andrew Bunya’s team.

But against the run of play, the hosts levelled the scoreline. A long freekick from Mwakasinga caught Chirwa and Senaji napping in the line of duty, forcing Innocent Nyasulu to leave his line in desperate need to clear the danger.

But our new goalkeeper’s timing was poor as Chifuniro Mpinganjira got the better of the shot-stopper before laying the ball to Kamwendo who wasted no time to fire straight at goal and put the game at 1-1 in the 62nd minute.

Bullets should have restored their lead in the 67th minute when Mwaungulu found Salima inside the penalty box, but his attempt was stopped by Mwakasinga.

Chitiyo makes Bullets debut

Pasuwa made four changes and brought on Phiri, Ernest Petro, Precious Sambani and our last signing in the just-ended transfer window, Ronald Chitiyo, for Mwaungulu, Nkhoma, Aaron and Crispin Mapemba in the 70th minute as we looked to add more firepower in attack.

Maule kept pushing for another goal, but Mwakasinga was at it again when he produced a fantastic save to deny Chirwa from finding the back of the net.

The last ten minutes saw the Malawi champions increasing their attacking prowess and they should have had a penalty in additional minutes when Chikufenji brought down Salima, but the referee Mayamiko Kanjere cautioned the winger for assimilation, to the disappointment of the visitors. In the end, the points were shared for Bullets’ winless run at Dedza Stadium to continue.

What next for The People’s Team

We are back in action on Saturday when we host Mighty Tigers at Kamuzu Stadium in our second league fixture this term as we eye our 18th league title and a sixth in a row.

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