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Pasuwa reacts to CAF Champions League exit

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Kalisto Pasuwa believes his Nyasa Big Bullets were unrecognizable in the CAF Champions League second preliminary round return leg against the Democratic Republic of Congo’s TP Mazembe on Saturday.

The African dream for the Malawi champions was cut off following a 4-0 defeat at Stade TP Mazembe, 5-0 on aggregate to the five-time CAF Champions League winners.

Speaking to the press after the defeat in Lubumbashi, Pasuwa bemoaned the way his team made it easy for the opponents.

“It was a game full of mistakes. You could see the goals we gave them, they were give-away goals and I’m wondering to say ‘why?’. Most of them who made mistakes are dependable players but you think every time they have seen enough to do better in terms of how we are defending. But again, that is what football is all about. You could see that they were even failing to track opponents in our defending third, which is one thing we need to sit down and see what was really happening.”

Indeed, The Peoples Team put up an awful rearguard performance which left them 3-0 down inside the opening 20 minutes, forcing Pasuwa to make three changes just after the half-hour mark before the Malawi champions conceded the fourth goal in the 40th minute.

“In the second half, we settled and we tried to manage the ball but again we weren’t doing [it right] in terms of going into the attacking third of the opponents to have shots on goals,” expressed the Zimbabwean.

On Saturday afternoon, Pasuwa fiddled a starting line-up with several rotational changes in player positions. One notable change was Clyde Senaji, who has usually played as a central defender in his Bullets career but started as a defending midfielder against the Democratic of Congo champions.

Our defence looked loose in his absence, but the head coach was quick to defend his experiment.

“If you can look at Senaji, that is his natural position, it was me who changed him into a centre-back. If we could see, he was doing very well in that position, it was very unfortunate that we were failing at the back and that is when we ended up pulling him back to being a centre-back.”

We might have bowed out of the competition but our efforts were always visible.

Despite that we were against a side of greater success in the competition, Pasuwa does not believe it was a question of experience that hindered his team from progressing.

“I wouldn’t say they were stronger than us. If you see the way we were playing, it was the mistakes that we were doing [that got us punished in the opening half] and we came back in the second half settled and we were toe to toe with them. With a little bit of luck, we could have scored, we could be scoring but it was the mistakes we were doing in the first half,” he responded.

Believing that on another day The People’s Team could be winning against Mazembe, the former Zimbabwe national team coach could only be left worried about the mentality of his men.

“If you could see, it was the approach. Complacency in the team in those areas we were making mistakes. Just imagine passing the ball backwards for the opponent to go and score. Some of these you can be surprised as a coach to ask what is really happening,” stated the Bullets coach.

Aside from the scoreline, Maule put up an improved performance in the second half and that would be the positive Pasuwa will be taking from the Mazembe tie.

“In the first half, our boys were not tracking and could leave opponents going into the attacking third and doing over-loads on the
sides. Second half we brought some of the guys in the central field and they could track hence we started dominating possession and attacking the opposition.”

Next for Pasuwa is the task to regroup his men and switch their focus to the domestic TNM Super League action as they are set to host Bangwe All Stars at Kamuzu Stadium on Wednesday.

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