Bullets return second call, set up semifinal showdown with Mighty Wanderers

Nyasa Big Bullets will play Mighty Wanderers in the semifinals of the 2021 Airtel Top 8 Cup after beating Mafco FC 2-1 in the second leg of their quarterfinal tie played at Chitowe Stadium to progress with a 5-2 aggregate win.
The People’s Team had a two-goal lead over the Salima based Soldiers following their first leg emphatic 3-1 lead at Kamuzu Stadium a fortnight ago.

However, Kalisto Pasuwa’s men were made to run for their money as Mafco FC displayed brilliant football from the word go to send a warning to Bullets that the match was far from over.

Calisto Kalinda paved the way for Walusungu Mpata in the 13th minute after sustaining an injury early into the match.

But despite this setback, the hosts were all over the place especially in the midfield where Paul Phiri was operating.

The visitors created their goal scoring opportunity in the 15th minute through Lanjesi Nkhoma who found Chimwemwe Idana unmarked in the six-yard box but the midfielder’ weaker effort was well saved by Ronald Khunga in goal for Mafco FC.

After that miss, Bullets were punished.

In took 17 minutes for Mafco FC to break the deadlock.

A combination of Yohane Malunga and Peter Kasonga created space for Phiri who made no mistake to fire at goal to reduce the arrears to 3-2.

With the early lead, Mafco FC only needed one goal to level and to progress on an away goal rule and this made things very difficult for Pasuwa’ men.

Bullets were living dangerously and it took Gabeya’s brilliance to stop Malunga from doubling his side’s tally with a million-dollar tackle.

Bullets should have levelled in the 28th minute through Hassan Kajoke who connected well Ernest Petro’s corner kick only to be denied by Paul Ndhlovu’s clearance when Khunga was already beaten in the line of duty.

There were few chances created by both teams in the last five minutes of the match to head to the dressing room for a break at 1-0 in favor of the home team.

After the recess, Maurice Chiumia was replaced by Ben Mbewe as the host increased their attacking options to find the second goal which could have seen them putting the game in their favor.

Bullets had a chance in the 57th minute when Nkhoma made another run to the far right but his final touch let him down, allowing the hosts to recover before making a clearance.

Pasuwa made his first change when he introduced Alick Lungu for Kajoke who had picked up an injury in the early minutes of the match.

The hosts had a penalty shout turned down by referee Mercy Mziya in the 64th minute who made a similar call at the other end when Babatunde Adepoju was brought down by Ndhlovu inside the penalty box.

Pasuwa made another change in the 68th minute when he introduced Bright Munthali for Ernest Petro.

This change brought some rhythm to Bullets who were now in control of the midfield after they struggled to stop Phiri who was in complete control of the centre circle.

Munthali created his first chance in the 74th minute when he dribbled past Kingsley Nkhonjera but his shot went straight at Khunga.

Stain Malata and Martin Masoatheka replaced Malunga and Vitumbiko Phiri whilst Chiukepo Msowoya came in for the injured Lanjesi Nkhoma in the 77th minute.

Just when Mafco FC thought they were in control of the match and pushing for the much-needed goal, Bullets rose back to life in the 80th minute.

Munthali outsmarted Nkhonjera who was quick to raise his hand for a possible freekick but Mziya turned him down, allowing the midfielder to deliver a brilliant cross to Msowoya who headed past Khunga only to be denied by the upright but Babatunde was very quick to slot the ball home from a rebound, 1-1.

This meant Bullets were now one leg into the semis as the hosts were now required to score more than a goal to sail through.

Bullets’ the comeback was completed in the 93rd minute when Msowoya was brought down by Ndlovu inside the six-yard box, forcing Mziya to point straight at the penalty spot.

This decision did not go well with the Soldiers who surrounded the centre referee and vowed never allow Bullets to take the penalty.

It took more than five minutes for the penalty to be played and Babatunde stepped up to score past Khunga and to give Bullets a first-time lead which eventually guided the visitors to a hard fought 2-1 victory.