Defending TNM Super League champions Nyasa Big Bullets fought back from two goals down to force a 3-3 draw with Red Lions in a six-goal thriller at Kamuzu Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Things got worse for the hosts when they failed to adapt to the conditions of the pitch which was full of water due to heavy rain that started in the first half of the game.
Bullets were enjoying possession and should have taken the lead in the seventh minute when Peter Banda released Zicco Mkanda who could only shoot straight at Red Lions’s goalkeeper, however, the hosts were able to break the deadlock in the 15th minute through Hassan Kajoke.
A brilliant run from Banda into the visitors’ area put Kajoke through before releasing a thunderbolt outside the penalty box into the net, 1-0. Soon after the goal, it started raining heavily, making it very difficult for Bullets to play their passing game.
The conditions of the pitch made football very difficult for the hosts, but it was Red Lions who adapted well to the situation and capitalized on Bullets’ defensive errors at the back. Royal Bokosi made it 1-1 with a powerful header following a cross from the right wing to beat Ernest Kakhobwe in goals for the home side.
As the pitch became unplayable for the two teams due to the continued rains, Bullets kept on forcing to play their passing game on a waterlogged field, allowing Red Lions to change their tactics by opting for aerial balls and this paid off. A mistake at the back by Ben Manyozo and Kakhobwe saw Bokosi scoring the visitors’ second goal in an unbelievable circumstance.
In the 43rd minute, Bokosi completed his hat-trick with another mistake from Kakhobwe who left his goal line after failing to communicate with Manyozo to allow the striker to shoot outside the penalty box into an empty net, 1-3.
But Bullets were still in it and were able to reduce the arrears in the additional minutes through Kajoke who scored from the spot following a handball situation in the box, 2-3.
After the recess, Bullets wasted no time by finding the equalizer through Gomezgani Chirwa who made a simple tap in after Banda’s shot was saved by the visitors’ goalkeeper.
Bullets enjoyed the better of the play, creating several chances on goal and they should have scored another goal in quick succession, but Nickson Nyasulu’s header from Banda’s corner kick was cleared by the visitors before crossing the line. Pasuwa made a double substitution of Luke Chima and Ernest Petro for Mike Mkwate and Mkanda. Idana’s long range was blocked inside the penalty box.
At the other end, Kakhobwe made a superb save to deny Red Lions from scoring after Bullets’ defence was caught napping in the line of duty. There were anxious moments in Red Lions’ box as the pressure continued to mount from the team in red, who were inches away from making it 4-3 when Nyasulu’s header from Precious Sambani’ freekick missed the crossbar.
As Bullets kept on pushing for the winning goal, the Zomba Soldiers stood firm to collect a point from one of the most entertaining matches played in the current campaign.
Speaking to the media Bullets coach Pasuwa said he was pleased with the result considering the conditions of the pitch due to the heavy rains.
“I am happy with the result. We were able to come back from 3-1 down to 3-3 and we almost scored the winning goal, but we were not clinical enough in front of goals. The rain made it very difficult for us to play our normal passing game and our friends capitalized on our defensive errors, but that’s football and I am happy with how we responded after the early goals,” he explained.
His opposite number Mike Kumanga was also delighted with the result.
“Earning a point away from home is a plus for us. It was a difficult game for both of us due to heavy rains, but we were quick to adapt to the environment and netted three quick goals, but we allowed our friends back into the game in the added minutes. Nevertheless, it’s a very good result for us,” he said.
The result means Bullets have dropped seven points in the four games played so far this season. The People’s Team are fifth in the standings with five points from four games played. Red Lions on the other hand have maintained their number one position on the log table with 8 points from the same number of games.
FULL LEAGUE RESULTS
Ntopwa 4-1 Blue Eagles
TN Stars 2-1 Mzuzu University FC
Ekwendeni Hammers 1-1 MAFCO
Red Bullets 3-3 Red Lions
Silver Strikers 5-1 Kamuzu Barracks
Civo 1-0 Mzuni
Moyale Barracks 0-0 MAFCO
Azam Tigers 0-1 Blue Eagles
RELATED ARTICLE: Super League of Malawi: weekend preview
By Prince Sobayeni