The bus at stake in the Bus Ipite Bonanza is still in blue and red colours, but after Be Forward Wanderers’ 3-0 whitewash of rivals Nyasa Big Bullets at Kamuzu Stadium on Monday, organiser, Luso Television, can as well paint it all blue.
Yes, football is notorious of swinging on the pendulum of the unbelievable, but Bullets will need an unlikely drastic surge of panache, character and form to overturn the tables in the second leg next Monday at Civo Stadium, Lilongwe.
What hurt Bullets the most was that it was their former sons, Jafali Chande and Jimmy Zakazaka, who came off the bench to score the opener and the final goal, which sandwiched the other goal from Joseph Kamwendo.
Bullets were visibly lost on a cloudless afternoon, unable to respond every time Wanderers counter-attacked so fast like the lightning that flashed in the sky all afternoon.
Yesterday, Bullets did not only lose the game, but they were humiliated, tortured and embarrassed—the long faces of their fans, scarves stuffed in their pockets, said it all.
Bullets, torn between the need for a brand new bus and the focus on the forthcoming TNM Super League decisive game against Blue Eagles this Saturday, were outplayed, outthought and outmuscled in this first leg.
Chande, introduced inside the opening five minutes by default after striker Peter Wadabwa’s injury, scored in the 17th minute. Unmarked and forgotten in the box, he leapt to thump in a header.
The goal came minutes after Wanderers’ fans had made their voices heard for wrong reasons. They pelted onto the pitch after what they felt was referee, Evidence Kananji’s biased officiation.
As Wanderers’ captain Joseph Kamwendo gestured while calling for peace and order in the terraces, Wadabwa slumped to his knees, then to the ground in pain.
In came, Chande and soon Wanderers were on the front foot. Alfred Manyozo won all the first balls, striker Amos Bello pressed Bullets’ high up the pitch. Kamwendo sprayed the balls all over pitch.
Bullets retreated and when they attacked, they left holes at the back. Isolated striker Chiukepo Msowoya lacked service and company.
With the first-half seemingly heading for an end, Chande won the ball wide on the right in a counterattack. He switched it to the left wing where Bello combined with Kamwendo, sneaked past defenders before chipping the ball past goalkeeper Ernest Kakhobwe.
At break, Bullets pulled out defender Maneno Nyoni and winger McFarlen Mgwira for Fischer Kondowe and Muhammad Sulumba, respectively, but Wanderers were happy to sit deep and hit on the break.
Msowoya came close with a header when meeting Sulumba’s in-swinger from the left. Wanderers responded with right-back Stanley Sanudi hitting the upright after a cut-back by right-winger Isaac Kaliyati.
Eventually, Kaliyati left the stage for Zakazaka who completed the rout direct from a free-kick. In earning the free-kick, Bullets’ defender Pilirani Zonda had fouled Chande, who earlier had an effort incorrectly ruled off-side.
Bullets’ Team Manager, Rahim Ishmael, was in a post-match interview, faced with the big task of offering an explanation for the defeat.
“There is nothing else I can say. We have lost and that is how it is. Chances are there for us in the second leg. That will be another game,” said Ishmael, while his opposite number, Steve Madeira, described the win as a reward for the effort the players put in training.
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