Civo United did not only boot Big Bullets out of the Standard Bank Cup last Thursday, but they also destroyed the charm that made the Malawi league defending champions indomitable at home.
The league leaders were unbeaten in their last 17 league games but on Sunday afternoon they lost 2-1 to Airborne Rangers at Chitowe Stadium.
The visitors were without six first team players but had a very good game in the opening 15 minutes as they opened the scoreline from the spot through James Chilapondwa.
Few minutes later, Jafali Chande and Mussa Manyenje had three clear cut chances but the duo were unable to score past Rangers goalkeeper Gift Kalira to the disappointment of the visiting fans.
At the other end, Moffat Khamula wasted a golden opportunity when Cyrus Phiri played him through only for him to fire wide from close range no wonder he was substituted by Josaya Duwa.
Bullets’ defence was very porous but the home team failed to utilise this opportunity. In the second half, the flying Soldiers improved tremendously as they took the game to Bullets who were below par.
Diverson Mlozi was introduced for the ineffective Manyenje but failed to make an impact as Airborne Rangers’ defence led by Stain Malata stood firm to frustrate the league leaders.
22 minutes into the half, the match was level; Caphus Ziwa tapped in from close range after Bullets’ defenders were caught napping.
Bullets were no match to Rangers’ brilliant display of football which saw them create lots of goal scoring opportunities but Chimwemwe Kumkwawa in goals for the current defending champions made some brilliant saves to deny the soldiers from increasing their lead.
Just when everybody thought the game was heading for a draw, Rangers had other plans.
A blunder by Yamikani Fodya gifted the ball away to Duwa who made no mistake but to fire past Kumkwawa, leaving all Bullets fans in total disbelief as their unbeaten league run came to an end in an unbelievable circumstances.
Speaking to the media after the final whistle, Bullets technical director Billy Tewesa admitted that his side is passing through a rough patch but was optimistic of turning the tables around.
“We have so many injuries and this is affecting our game plan. We have lost today but we are very optimistic of turning the tables around,” he said.
Ranges’ Kondwani Gawani said his boys got it right in the second half.
“We knew that Bullets will struggle in the second half because they lost a lot of energy in the first half and it happened just like that, we scored two goals in the process,” he said.
Bullets are still on top with 41 points, 7 ahead of second placed Mafco FC with two games in hand.
In other results, Kamuzu Barracks were 1-0 winners over Mzuni FC at Mzuzu Stadium whilst Azam Tigers and Red Lions played to a goalless draw at the sunbathed Kalulu Stadium.