Nyasa Big Bullets players celebrating (Image source; Nyasa Big Bullets)
A goal in each half from Chimwemwe Idana and Anthony Mfune inspired Nyasa Big Bullets to a hard-fought 2-1 victory over rivals Mighty Wanderers to mark the beginning of the 2022 TNM Super League season at Kamuzu Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Head coach Kalisto made several changes to the side that played in the Pamtsetse Top Four Bonanza, with Chimwemwe Idana, Henry Kabichi and Gomezgani Chirwa all making it in the first eleven whilst Eddington Ng’onamo made only a single change to the side that finished as runners up in the Bonanza by handing Miracle Gabeya a place in the first team.
Bullets first counterattack saw Misheck being brought down by Peter Cholopi inside the penalty box but center referee Alfred Kaphantengo waved for a goal kick to the disappointment of Pasuwa’s led technical panel.
But Bullets broke the deadlock in a brilliant fashion on the 16th minute through Chimwemwe Idana who released a thunderous shot outside the penalty box from a well taken Henry Kabichi’s corner kick to beat Pilirani Mapila who was in goal posts for the Lali Lubani boys.
Bullets continued to play the possession game with Selemani, Precious Sambani and Babatunde Adepoju exchanging passes to set through Lanjesi Nkhoma who saw his shot well blocked by Miracle Gabeya.
The chances soon dried-up for them the longer the first half went, Babatunde once again running to the Nomads box late but his final touch let him down, allowing Wanderers to defend well from dangerous situations.
In the 28th minute, Vitumbiko Kumwenda made his way into the penalty box but his shot was well saved by Richard Chimbamba.
Towards the end of the first half, Wanderers regained possession and created spaces but Kesten Simbi and Hadji Wali were too stubborn at the back to keep The People’s Team into the game.
After the recess, Ng’onamo brought in Isaac Kaliyati and Wisdom Mpinganjira for Yamikani Chester and Kumwenda to try to improve their attacking options especially from the wings where Chirwa and Sambani completely closed down the Nomads.
Indeed, Wanderers dominated play as Bullets retrieved in their half, ending up inviting the pressure from the visitors.
The Nomads were becoming more dangerous by each passing minute but they weren’t able to unlock Bullets’ defence which kept on clearing all the dangerous balls away to the safety.
Sensing danger, Pasuwa brought in Macfallen Mgwira and Ernest Petro for Blessings Mpokera and Selemani to close all the spaces that were created by Wanderers.
Despite dominating for more second half minutes, it was Bullets who came close to adding their second goal but Babatunde was judged to have scored from an offside position.
In the 75th minute, Idana produced a million dollar pass to Sambani who made a good run into the 18-yard box and he found himself in a one on one situation with Mapira but his weaker volley was easily saved by the advanced shot-stopper.
This miss was costly and Bullets paid dearly in the 78th minute when Vincent Nyangulu pounced on a loose ball from Kaliyati’s corner kick to hit the back of the net after Chirwa’s failure to clear the ball before it crossed the line, 1-1.
The goal was all what the Nomads were looking for and they really upped their game but they kept firing wide to the relief of Pasuwa’s side.
In the 81st minute, Mfune came in for Nkhoma and without wasting time, he restored Bullets’ lead in a brilliant fashion.
A long ball from the back to Mgwira saw him found Mfune who brilliantly controlled the ball before producing a super finish into the net to score his first goal after joining the team last year, 2-1.
It was now Bullets’ turn to control possession, kill time and frustrate their opponents, who, despite pushing for the equalizer, were denied by Simbi’s led defence.
In the 88th minute, Mfune was brought down by Gabeya but once again, Kaphantengo waved play on, a decision which triggered massive reaction from the home team.
Three minutes were added to the clock and Bullets held on to collect maximum points on the opening day of the 2022 TNM Super League season.