With no shot on target for the entire 90 minutes, Nyasa Big Bullets were tactically outclassed by Silver Strikers in the FISD Cup round of 16 clash at Kamuzu Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.
Substitute Blessings Tembo’s bullet header in the second half was enough to send the Central Bankers into the last 8 of the inaugural cup at the expense of Bullets who are very difficult to beat at home.
Bullets technical panel made more than four changes to the side that drew 0-0 with Azam Tigers in a league match on Sunday, with Luka Milanzi making his debut for the Blantyre based giants.
The Bankers kept strict discipline in keeping players behind the ball and never allowed Bullets to enjoy possession, forcing the peoples team to prefer using long balls as they lacked creativity that has so long been their hallmark as they are failing to break down opponents who are disciplined at the back.
Thuso Paipi was the man to watch in the opening half as he tormented Yamikani Fodya but lacked the finishing composure in the final third.
The only realistic chance for the home side came in the 42nd minute through Chiukepo Msowoya whose header went agonizingly wide and it was goalless at half time.
Come second half, Bullets introduced Diverson Mlozi for Milanzi as they tried to force Silver Strikers into opening their backline.
Bullets passed it around but were never able to make the decisive and penetrative pass as it was a slow and predictable build-up.
Binwell Katinji and Kondwani Mwaila were pulled out for Victor Limbani and Tembo as Silver kept knocking for the opening goal and were very unfortunate not to find one as Chimwemwe Kumkwawa in goals for the hosts saved them when Tizgowere Kumwenda released a trigger just outside the penalty box. Just when everybody thought the game was edging towards the shootout, the Central Bankers silenced the home fans with a beautiful goal. Duncan Nyoni dribbled past Chikumbutso Kanyenda before releasing a master class cross which met Tembo who made no mistake by releasing a thumping header past Kumkwawa into the net, 1-0.
Bullets then introduced Collen Nkhulambe for the injured Mussa Manyenje but the latter’ introduction did not add much to their efforts as they kept chasing the ball instead of dominating possession. Bullets’ closest chance in the half was through Nkhulambe who fired over the cross bar after being released from the left flank by Msowoya.
With less than five minutes to go, Young Chimodzi Jnr almost doubled the lead for the visitors when his volley missed the upright with an inch.
Nevertheless, Silver stood firm to avenge cup and league lossess suffered in the hands of Bullets for the past three seasons. Silver will travel to Chitowe where they will face Dwangwa United in the last eight of the competition.
As for Bullets, their only realistic chance of winning another silverware is by winning all their remaining TNM Super League matches, including their match against the Bankers on Sunday in Lilongwe.
At Nankhaka Stadium, a lone strike from Vitumbiko Kumwenda inspired Blue Eagles to a hard fought 1-nil victory over struggling Civo Service United to join Zolozolo, Dwangwa United, Be Forward Wanderers and Silver Strikers into the last eight of the cup.