Nyasa Big Bullets were 1-nil winners over Mozambique’s UD Songo while Zimbabwe’s Chicken Inn beat Be Forward Wanderers with the same margin on the first day of the pre-season Energem International Bonanza on Friday.
Both games were played at Kamuzu Stadium where the friendly tournament ends on Subway with Bullets playing Wanderers and Chicken Inn facing UD Songo.
Chicken Inn got the action underway with a 1-nil win over Wanderers courtesy of a second half finish from Malvin Gaki.
It wasn’t a perfect start for Wanderers who struggled to play their normal game as the visitors outclassed them in almost all the departments.
As the first half ended goalless, Gaki made the difference in the second half when he finished off a bouncing ball after a blunder from Nomads goalie Richard Chipuwa.
The visitors should have added their second goal but Chipuwa made amends when he produced a fantastic save to deny them from scoring when the defence was already beaten in the line of duty.
In the second game of the day, Precious Sambani scored the only goal as Nyasa Big Bullets recorded a narrow 1-0 victory over UD Songo.
Bullets head coach Kalisto Pasuwa made 11 changes to the squad that won the TNM Super League last season, introducing players who were either injured or had no game time to have a glimpse of playing for the club in readiness for the 2020 soccer season.
The hosts had their first attempt at goal through Nelson Kangunje whose drive missed the goal mouth from an inch.
However, it was the visitors who were enjoying more possession through Thomas Nyirenda, John Banda and Daudo Abaccar, forcing Bullets to sit back to defend in numbers.
Goalkeeper Ernest Kakhobwe made his first save of the match when Kuwali’s low cross drive into the box found Candido Mathe who connected well only to be denied by the shot-stopper for a corner.
At the other end of the field, Bright Munthali managed to beat the offside trap but wasted the glorious opportunity when his pass to Kangunje was intercepted by Sidique Musaji for a corner.
With less than five minutes to play in half, Bullets’ Aziz Mwakifuna saw his bicycle kick well cleared from the goal line by Pascual Amorim in an unbelievable circumstance.
As the second half began, the intensity rose from the hosts.
Munthali had his long range drive well blocked by the visitors before another long range effort from Pilirani Zonda that went wide.
Dalitso Sailesi paved the way for Righteous Banda while Mathe was replaced by Lau King just after ten minutes into the half.
Bullets kept on pushing for the opener and the moment they were waiting for arrived in the 62nd minute.
A corner from Banda was connected into the net by Sambani who defied the force of gravity by rising up in the sky to give the hosts a lead, 1-0.
The lead could have only lasted for less than five minutes when UD Songo won a freekick just closer to the penalty box but Stelio Ernesto’s effort went straight into the arms of Kakhobwe.
There was a loud roar within the stadium by the home supporters who were still celebrating their slender lead.
Nixon Nyasulu was brought in for Sambani while Ernesto paved the way for Belito Antonio for the visitors.
Kuwali missed the visitors’ closest chance in the half when he was fed by Antonio but his first touch let him down, allowing Sankhani Mkandawire to make his clearance to the relief of the home fans who were still in a jovial mood.
As the match was approaching the dead end, Zicco Mkanda came in for Kangunje while Kuwali got injured and he was replaced by Saido Christiano.
In the dying minutes of the match, Antonio had the opportunity to put the game on level terms but his freekick closer to the penalty box went over the crossbar and after 90 minutes of play, it ended 1-0 in favour of the home team.
Pasuwa was pleased with his side’s energetic performance.
“It was our first pre-season match and I am very impressed with how the boys performed throughout the match. We were trying different combinations by using players who were not active last season and I believe we will get there before the new season,” he said.
Friday’s results mean Bullets and Chicken Inn are tied at 3 points each ahead of their clash on Saturday afternoon.
Day two of the tournament will see Wanderers playing host to UD Songo in the early kickoff.