Sankhani Mkandawire spares Bullets’ blushes against Tigers


…as Dwangwa returns home with nothing….

A Sankhani Mkandawire equaliser rescued Nyasa Big Bullets as they drew 1-1 with Mighty Tigers in their TNM Super League encounter at Kamuzu Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Bullets coach Calisto Pasuwa was forced to make changes to the team that defeated TN Stars in the league opener, with Pilirani Zonda and Sankhani Mkandawire all being given their first starts to plug the creative gap left by the injured Gomezgani Chirwa and Charles Petro.

The visitors dominated a lot of the ball in the early stages as Tony Mbulu and Syasimbiwe Kanyika combined to effect down the right flank in the opening 13 minutes.

However, it was Bullets who came close to scoring in the 11th minute through Yamikani Fodya whose tap in effort was cleared by Nixon Mwase before crossing the line.

Moments later, Tigers survived another scare when Bullets attacked in numbers but Patrick Phiri’s cracking left-footed drive crashed against defender Ganizani Anthony for a corner.

Against the run of play, Bullets scored a goal through Chiukepo Msowoya but referee Mayamiko Kanjere blew his whistle for a foul on goalkeeper Christopher Mikuwa.

Bullets were in control but lack of coordination in the midfield between Chimango Kayira, Chimwemwe Idana and Mike Mkwate, who was completely closed down by Anthony Namwera and Matthias Nyirenda, made it very difficult for the team to create goal scoring opportunities.

At the other end, Tigers were handed a golden opportunity to take the lead just before the half-hour mark when the ball kindly for Kanyika.

However, the forward fired over the crossbar from 16 yards as Bullets survived a scare.

In the second half, it only took Tigers less than 10 minutes to break the deadlock.

A stunning counter hurricane attack from the left flank of the field found Kanyika in the box whose shot was well saved by Rabson Chiyenda only to land straight into Mbulu’s path who made no mistake but to make a simple tap in, 1-0.

The goal served as a real wake-up call for Bullets, who are yet to lose at home for the past six seasons and they introduced Nelson Kangunje for Idana as they pressed harder for the equalizer.

Phiri then came close to equalizing for the hosts in the 70th minute but his decision to cross the ball into the box instead of just shooting at goal proved too costly as Tigers reassembled and cleared the danger away.

Pasuwa then made his second substitute, introducing Luke Chima for MacPhallen Ngwira.

The moment which all Bullets were waiting for finally arrived in the 76th minute through Mkandawire who headed home from a corner kick taken by Chima.

Bullets were attacking in numbers but they were also vulnerable in defence as Tigers almost capitalized on the counter attack but Kanyika’s shot was saved by Chiyenda.

Tigers then brought in Jafali Maunde for Mbulu as they were slowly settling for a draw against the defending champions.

With Bullets finding it very difficult to score the winning goal, Msowoya wasted a golden opportunity when he blasted his effort over the crossbar to the disappointment of the home supporters who came out in their large numbers.

With five minutes left to play, Mkwate paved the way for Fischer Kondowe but his impact was not felt as the clock was ticking fast against the home team.

In the additional minutes, Kanjere red carded Tigers captain Willy Saenda but it was too late for Bullets to capitalize on one man advantage as the two teams shared one point a peace.

Bullets’ Pasuwa praised Tigers for putting gallant fight but he was quick to admit that lack of coordination between his midfielders and strikers was the reason why two points were dropped.

Tigers’ Technical Director Robin Alufandika was disappointed with the result saying they almost killed Bullets but his boys were too casual towards the last 15 minutes of the match.

However, he was comfortable to send a very strong warning to all the teams in the top flight that his side will come hard on them as he has assembled a very good squad.

The result means Bullets are fifth in the standings with four points from two matches while Tigers are third with five points from three games.

Elsewhere, Stain Dave scored the only goal to inspire TN Stars to a 1-0 victory over Dwangwa United to move up to ninth on the log table with four points from four games.

The defeat sees Dwangwa United returning to their base with nothing from their two away assignments.

At Nankhaka Stadium, Blue Eagles and Mlatho Mponela played out to a goalless draw.

Eagles are still second in the standings with seven points from three games while Mlatho Mponela are anchoring the table with a point from three games.