Civil Service United became the first team in two seasons to inflict a defeat on FCB Nyasa Big Bullets at Kamuzu Stadium when they came from behind to record a 2-1 win in the Airtel Top 8 second leg quarterfinal match on Saturday afternoon.
However, the win wasn’t enough to take Civil to the semis as they bowed out of the competition with a 3-2 aggregate lose to the 2022 winners who won the first 2-0 in Lilongwe a fortnight ago.
With a 2-0 goal first leg advantage, the 2022 winners knew any positive result was enough to send them through.
However, the visitors stepped up and made the hosts run for their money.
From the first minute, Bullets pressed for an early lead, and they got their wish as Maxwell Phodo headed past Tione Tembo from Precious Phiri’s well taken corner kick to put them ahead, 1-0.
However, the celebrations were cut short as Lloyd Aaron leveled the scoreline from the spot after a foul by Collins Okumu on Luke Chima.
The next minutes belonged to Abbas Makawa’s charges, who pressed from all angles through Aaron, Moses Banda, Chima, Innocent Tanganyika, and Chikaiko Batison, but to find the back of the net proved too futile as Okumu and his defensive partner, Nyasulu, protected Chimbamba with excellent clearances.
Bullets’ day was worsened when full-back Gomezgani Chirwa sustained an injury, and he was replaced by MacFarlane Mgwira.
The injury to Chirwa was a blessing to the visitors who started to attack through Batison, who created several goal scoring opportunities for the Lilongwe based side, but they couldn’t put the ball into the net.
After a half-hour mark, Kajoke was a recipient of a fantastic cross from Kaonga, but his effort swerved past Tembo, who was completely static, and he was very fortunate not to concede.
Moments later, Magombo’ through ball to Phodo nearly restored Bullets’ lead, but the forward, despite dribbling past Tembo, sent his shot wide when the goal was wide open.
At this moment, it was a 50-50 affair, but the most active area was the midfield, which was mostly dominated by Aaron and Banda.
The hosts were very fortunate not to concede another goal in the half that would have made a second half very difficult for Pasuwa’s side.
The first half ended 1-1.
In the second half, Pasuwa brought in Anthony Mfune for Magombo to try to increase the firepower in search of a goal to completely kill off the game.
In the 50th minute, Kaonga was denied by Tembo, who produced a save to concede a corner kick, which was easily defended by the visitors.
It was Civil who doubled their lead in the 57th minute through Chima, who produced a powerful header from Tanganyika’s excellent delivery into the box, beating Chimbamba to his near post.
This was a sign that the match was far from over as predicted by Pasuwa, who told the club’s media that “the second leg would be very tough” against a well-organized opposition.
The advantage was still with Bullets, but another goal from the visitors would have seen the game level, but the table would have turned in Civil’s favor as that would mean three away goals against Bullets’ two.
Sensing danger, Pasuwa brought in Yankho Singo and Lanjesi Nkhoma for Phiri and Kajoke.
The visitors were dominating, and they nearly punished Bullets when Batison advanced into the shooting range only to see his goal-bound shot well blocked by Okumu, who was injured in the process but recovered and continued the game.
Festus Chikwezga replaced Ngapenga, who also sustained an injury.
After a sequence of counterattack football, Chimbamba made an incredible save from Chima’ powerful header from yet another brilliant cross from Tanganyika.
The Servants looked dangerous on the counter as the clock was ticking very fast, racing into Bullets’ half off the back of their counter pressing. Aaron almost doubled his tally when he was set up by Chikwezga on the edge of the penalty box, but his shot went over the crossbar.
At the other end, Phodo’ weaker shot was well saved by Tembo, who wasn’t much troubled in this final half.
With six minutes left on the clock to play, Chikwezga missed Civil’s closest goal scoring opportunity when he was gifted the ball by Kaonga right inside the six-yard box. However, he shot wide when Chimbamba and his defenders were completely outnumbered by the visitors.
This was their chance, and they regretted afterward as Referee Dennis Chinoko blew his whistle to mark the end of the match.
Despite the defeat, Bullets marched on to the last four where they will face Eagles at a venue and date to be announced by the Football Association of Malawi.