It is done, it is sealed. Nyasa Big Bullets have clinched their fourth TNM Super League title in succession with two matches to spare, following an impressive 3-1 victory over Moyale Barracks at Kamuzu Stadium on Saturday.
Kalisto Pasuwa maintained the team that beat Mighty Tigers 2-0 on Wednesday whilst Prichard Mwansa made a single change to his starting eleven when he handed Maneno Nyoni a starting berth after the defender missed Wednesday’ match against Mighty Mukuru Wanderers.
Bullets only needed a point to secure the championship and eventually bringing to an end the title race which was mostly dominated by The People’s Team and the second-placed Blue Eagles.
From the first whistle, the intentions were clear from Pasuwa’s men who invaded the visitors goal area in search for an early goal.
And the goal nearly came inside the opening three minutes when a defensive mistake from Lusekero Malema allowed Patrick Mwaungulu to win the ball in the attacking zone and make a very quick pass to Chimwemwe Idana who had a clear sight to the goal before releasing a powerful drive which missed MacDonald Harawa’s right-hand goal post with just an inch.
Bullets pressed and had several attempts at goal, with Lanjesi Nkhoma, Mwaungulu, Idana and Babatunde Adepoju all coming very close to breaking the deadlock but were very unfortunate as they missed Harawa’s goal with just an inch.
But the pressure from the hosts finally paid off in the 20th minute when Nkhoma made a simple tap after the forward was found unmarked on the center of the six-yard box by Precious Sambani who got the better of Ntopijo Njewa before sending a dangerous cross which was easily slotted into the net by the attacker, 1-0.
The goal was like a wake-up call for the visiting team who, for the first time, made their first move through Lloyd Njaliwa who released Brown Magaga to the right and the winger delivered an inviting cross which met Gasten Simkonda but his header was well blocked by Hadji Wali.
After 25 minutes played, Bullets once again exerted more pressure on Prichard Mwansa’s men and Babatunde should have had his goal when he was at the receiving end of Frank Willard’ long range pass but his shot went over the crossbar for a goal kick.
The home team then doubled their tally in the 29th minute through Gomezgani Chirwa’s brilliant goal after he was set through by Nickson Nyasulu and the wingback, having spotted Harawa off his line of duty, wasted no time by volleying over the advanced shot-stopper into an empty net, 2-0.
Two would have turned to three when Ernest Petro made his way into the six-yard box before finding Mwaungulu unmarked and the youngster, with the goalkeeper already beaten, blasted his effort over the crossbar in an unbelievable circumstances and that was the easiest to score than to miss.
Towards the 40th minute mark, Mwaungulu made a brilliant move into Moyale’s penalty box and found Nkhoma who failed to connect home as he slipped when he was about to pull the trigger and that was all for the half, going for recess with the home team 45 minutes away from sealing the title.
In the second half, Bullets started in a similar way to the first half, with Mwaungulu coming close to opening his account when his powerful shot inside the penalty box was well saved by Harawa for a corner kick which the visitors easily defended.
But it was just a matter of time before the dominant Bullets increased their tally when Nkhoma, who received a beautiful pass from Idana, made it 3-0 to completely put the game beyond Moyale reach in the 49th minute.
Bullets kept on pushing for more and they should have had another goal in the 51st minute when all the attacking players exchanged passes to release Babatunde who fired at goal only to be denied by Maneno Nyoni’s excellent block as the ball was destined for a goal.
Mwansa brought in Innocent Botomani for Chisomo Magombo to try to close down Bullets’ threat which would normally come from the wings.
But despite creating numerous goal scoring opportunities, Bullets conceded from a set piece after Magaga’s cross was connected well into the net by Njaliwa, 3-1.
This goal was all what the visitors needed in order to get something out of the match and they made Bullets sweat for their money because thrice, Wali and Nyasulu made timely clearances to deny Simkonda, Magaga and Njaliwa from finding the back of the net.
Njaliwa almost doubled his tally when his flying header from yet another Magaga’s delivery hit the woodwork in the 60th minute and this would have made a nervous ending to the match especially to Bullets who, sometime back, gave away a lead three times to draw 4-4 before sealing the victory from the spot.
Sensing danger, Pasuwa brought in Precious Phiri for Mwaungulu to add numbers and at the same time, focusing on the defensive part of it in order to maintain the solid lead.
Bullets were forced to make another change in the 70th minute when Nkhoma sustained an injury and was replaced by Stanley Billiat.
Moyale Barracks had another glorious opportunity in the 74th minute when Clever Mkungula lost an aerial combat and allowed the visitors to win the ball in a very dangerous position but Boy Boy Chima shot wide when the goalkeeper was way off his goal line position, closest chance which would have changed the whole complexion of the game.
Bullets had two more chances through Phiri, who was found in the offensive zone by Idana but he chose to pass the ball to Babatunde when shooting was the best option.
Moments later, Babatunde was one on one with Nyoni but he rushed to fire at goal when Sambani placed himself in a very good shooting position and that was his last involvement in the match as he was replaced by Hassan Kajoke.
Few more chances were created by the two teams but after 90 minutes of play, 3-1 it ended in favor of Bullets. Nkhoma was named man of the match.
The result means The People’s Team have officially sealed their 16th league title and fourth in a row with two games to spare.
Their next assignment is a home match against Karonga United on Wednesday before facing Dedza Dynamos on the coronation day at the same venue.
As for the visitors, their top 8 place is safe for now but two wins for Civil Service United and Dedza Dynamos in their final matches will see them missing out of the top 8 finish.
This, because Dedza, currently with two games to play, sit in the 9th position with 40 points and with a superior goal difference over the Lions of Kaning’ina.
Civil can also move to within a point of Moyale if they can beat Wanderers on Sunday at Kamuzu Stadium.
The Mzuzu based Soldiers have finished the campaign on 7th position with 46 points.
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