Bullets held, end the first round on top


Defending champions FCB Nyasa Big Bullets endured a frustrating afternoon as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Mighty Tigers in a match which was dominated by Kalisto Pasuwa’s charges at Kamuzu Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.

It was a match mostly dominated by the visitors through their usual attacking players Lanjesi Nkhoma, Patrick Mwaungulu and Hassan Kajoke but to make a breakthrough proved to be a very difficult task for the defending champions who endured a frustrating afternoon.

The People’s Team had three successive chances within the space period of eight minutes, but they were all well defended by the hosts who, at times, could just sit back to defend against a very high pressing side.

Tigers had their share of possession in the 15th minute when Precious Chiudza, George Chaomba, and Frank Chikufenji exchanged passes to release Wellington Mkandawire who saw his goal-bound shot well blocked by Blessings Mpokera.

At the other end, Nkhoma made his way into Tigers’ penalty box before sending a very dangerous cross that found Kajoke who took a first time shot only to miss the target when the goal was wide open.

Moment later, Gomezgani Chirwa sprinted towards the right flank, but his cross was cut short by Kelvin Banda for a cornerkick, which Christopher Nyambose’s charges easily defended.

Bullets were coming wave after wave in search of the much needed goal, but Tigers defended with everything to keep themselves into the game.

In the 27th minute, Bullets were awarded a penalty when Kajoke was brought down inside the box by Masiya Manda.

The forward stepped up, but his spot kick was well saved by Tigers goalkeeper, Innocent Nyasulu.
Against the run of play, the hosts took a surprising lead.

A freekick by Precious Chipungu was connected into the net by Chiudza, 1-0.

This goal gave Bullets all the reasons to engage an extra gear in a desperate bid for a goal but the more they attacked, the more they hit a snag as Tigers were well disciplined at the back.

Towards the end of the half, Bullets missed three clear cut chances through Kajoke who fired wide when he was found unmarked by Nkhoma, Chawanangwa Gumbo who saw his shot well blocked by Manda and Frank Willard who fired wide from Tigers’ goal.

Bullets completely dominated the opening half while the hosts looked like they came with a plan to just sit back and make sure that the defending champions don’t score, and this worked as they indeed took a half-time lead.

In the second half, Pasuwa brought in Ephraim Kondowe for MacFarlane Mgwira in order to improve the attacking prowess.
This change was all what Bullets needed as they leveled in the 48th minute through Kondowe, who made a simple tap in from the lively Mwaungulu, 1-1.

The early equalizer unsettled Tigers who were now under intense pressure to contain the high-pressing Bullets who were doing everything to score the much needed goal.

As Bullets attacked, Tigers sat back to defend and they struggled to build their rhythm as they couldn’t even make five passes to one another without the ball being intercepted by a Bullets player.

The only time they got to take a decent shot at goal was after 58 minutes of play when Chiudza’ attempt went wide.

Bullets kept on playing with intent, and they had two penalty shouts in succession turned down by referee Gift Chicco, triggering massive protest from the visiting fans.

Mwaungulu produced a moment of brilliance when he got the better of Banda before delivering yet another excellent pass to Kajoke, who failed to connect home, allowing the Chipungu to make a timely clearance.

In the 64th minute, Nkhoma made his way into the attacking zones before being brought down by Manda for a freekick which was well taken by Mwaungulu, but Nyasulu was equal to the task with another save.

Bullets pressed, exchanged passes and made Tigers chase the ball throughout, but to unlock the opposition’ defense was a tall order for Pasuwa’s charges.

Kajoke was given another opportunity to makeup for his earlier miss from the spot when Mwaungulu found him unmarked again, but he was too slow to shoot at goal, wasting another glorious opportunity when it mattered most.

In the 83rd minute, another penalty shout was turned down by Chicco as Bullets were left frustrated by several wrong decisions from the officiating team.

With four minutes added to the clock, it was now Tigers’ turn to delay the match in order to dent all Bullets’ hopes of producing a last minute goal that would have seen them finishing the first round with 32 points.

Bullets have now dropped 15 points from six draws and one loss, finishing the first round with 30 points.

At this stage last season, they had 41 points, eleven points ahead of the second placed Blue Eagles FC going into the final half of the season.

The result means Bullets are a point ahead of the second placed Silver Strikers and third placed Chitipa United in the perking order.

As for Tigers, they are still stuck in the bottom three with 14 points from fifteen games.