Just like in the Holy Bible, the stone that the builders rejected became the cornerstone. Yes, Kondwani Kumwenda inspired Nyasa Big Bullets to a 1-nil hard fought victory over cross town rivals Be Forward Wanderers in a league match played on Saturday at Kamuzu Stadium.
It was a breathless, exhilarating way to start for both teams and, at the final whistle, Lloyd Nkhwazi could be seen pumping his fits in celebration. His team had held out and Maneno Nyoni, his new defender from Karonga United, had displayed brilliant football by keeping Peter Wadabwa and Jafali Chande in his pockets.
The first minutes were dominated by the hosts, with Joseph Kamwendo and Rafick Namwera winning more possession in the midfield. However, things changed when Bullets settled down and were now slowly taking the game away from the hosts.
Nyoni’s header from a Dalitso Sailesi’s header was cleared by Alfred Manyozo Jnr when Richard Chipuwa in goals for the Nomads left his line of duty.
Bullets were knocking at Wanderers’ goal and they got their wish just after 21st minute. Chiukepo Msowoya was harshly fouled by Manyozo Jnr, leaving referee Ishmael Chizinga with no choice but to award the defending league champions a free kick, 25 yards out. Pilirani Zonda released a rocket from the free kick which was saved by Chipuwa only to land in Kumwenda’s path who wasted no time by slotting past defenceless Chipuwa, 1-0.
At the other end, Wanderers should have levelled the score line through Chande, who instead of putting the ball into the net, twice blasted over the cross bar with the goalkeeper already beaten.
Moments later, Felix Zulu made his way into the penalty box but the winger was too slow on the ball, allowing Bullets to clear the danger away in an unbelievable situation.
With four minutes to go before the interval, Wanderers wasted another golden opportunity from a free kick which was also cleared by Kumwenda and it was 1-nil at half time. Come second half, Chande was the biggest culprit as he failed to show his potential and was eventually substituted for Khumbo Ng’ambi.
Bullets almost doubled their lead through Zonda whose rocket from a free kick was saved by Chipuwa for a corner.
Bullets brought in Anzeru Joseph for Collen Nkhulambe as they wanted to defend their slander lead. Nomads were able to keep possession but were unable to unlock Bullets’ defence which was led by Miracle Gabeya, Nyoni, Zonda and ever reliant Yamikani Fodya.
However, Wadabwa could have pulled level but he lost balance as he failed to outsmart Nyoni and that was his last action as he was substituted for Amos Bello, with Jimmy Zakazaka coming in for Kamwendo.
With the clock ticking very fast, Mussa Manyenje was introduced for Fischer Kondowe as Bullets wanted another goal to officially seal off the victory.
With less than 15 minutes to play, Bullets decided to sit back, allowing Wanderers to continue pressing harder in search for the equalizer and could have been rewarded when Zakazaka’s effort from a free kick missed the upright with an inch. Chizinga then added four extra minutes and Wanderers almost got a point from the game in the 93rd minute.
A mistake by Gabeya gifted the ball to Zakazaka who was alone in the D-zone but the former Bullets forward saw his shot well saved by Enerst Kakhobwe, leaving every Nomad supporter in a shock and after the final whistle, it ended 1-nil in favor of the league defending champions who are now second with 36 points, a point behind leaders Mafco FC.
This was eleventh attempt by Wanderers who failed to break the jink of failing to beat Bullets in a league match.
Speaking to the media, Wanderers Team Manager Steve Madeira said it was not their day and congratulated Bullets for claiming the bragging rights while his opposite number Rahim Ishmael congratulated his boys for the win but admitted that Wanderers gave them a tough run for their money.
The result leaves Wanderers in the 9th position with 28 points.