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Worst year for Wanderers

ON CLOUD NINE—Bullets players being honoured

RECORD-BREAKER—Muyaba was scoring freely

In a race there has to be one winner. The journey which started in April came to an end last week. It was one of the most competitive race in recent years as it went down to the wire but in the end Nyasa Big Bullets retained it after a 2-0 victory over TN Stars at Kamuzu Stadium.

Bullets won it with 70 points from 30 games, just one point above Wanderers who led for the better part of the season. The Nomads reigned supreme in the first round with 33 points, then they were four points clear of Bullets who were third at the end of the first round. Then Kamuzu Barracks were second with 30 points.

Surely, it was a season to forget for other teams, at the same time the season to remember for other teams. But Wanderers should be disappointed for failing to grab the title having led for the better part of the season.

The Nomads will rue the 2-0 to Blue Eagles at Nankhaka Stadium on November 3, 2019 and a first round 3-2 loss to Moyale Barracks. These two defeats for Wanderers handed Bullets lifeline in the title race. But Wanderers would rue most the 2-0 loss to Eagles as they surrendered a two-point cushion when Bullets defeated Mzuni FC 3-2 at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre. Then, there were still seven games to be played by the two Blantyre giants.

From that moment, Bullets maintained a one -point lead until the last day of the season as both teams were winning their respective matches. On their way to defend the league, Bullets only lost two games against Eagles (2-1) and 1-0 to Kamuzu Barracks, both matches in Lilongwe in the first round.

But the second round, Bullets were brave and showed great character when they collected maximum points against Silver Strikers (1-0) and Civil Sporting Club (1-0) on the road for the first time this season.

However, credit should go to Bullets Zimbabwean mentor Kallisto Pasuwa who made a shake-up at Bullets putting his trust on the youth. The move paid dividends in some games but experienced legs of Chiukepo Msowoya, Fischer Kondowe, Chimango Kaira and Yamikani Fodya played key role in defending the title.

Msowoya was relegated to the bench for the better part of the season but he was a game changer from the bench and his goals won the title for Bullets. It would be unfair not to mention Chimwemwe Idana in Bullets’ triumph in the just ended season. Playing in his first top flight season, Idana scored vital goals including a lone goal as Bullets beat Silver 1-0 in a match played on a waterlogged pitch.

Apart from Idana, youngsters such as Nixon Nyasulu, Charles Petro, Mike Mkwate and Peter Banda were also marvel to watch.

In one of the interviews in the just ended season, Pasuwa said the race was tough.

“We have played tough games. Most of the teams are difficult to beat. I like the intensity of the games we have played towards the end of the season,” Pasuwa said.

But for Wanderers, internal problems also affected their title ambitions. Coach Bob Mpinganjira assembled as good squad comprising Nigerian striker Babatunde Adepoju, Vincent Nyangulu, Francis Mkonda and Francisco Madinga Junior.

Probably what killed Wanderers most in the just ended season, was over reliance of Babatunde who at one point forgotten his scoring boots at home. The injury of Nyangulu also had an impact in the Nomads title race. He recovered in the middle of the second round and proved his class when he bagged in vital goals to keep his side in the title race.

The difference between Wanderers and Bullets in the title race was that the Nomads failed to beat top four teams this season. Wanderers drew goal-less against Bullets in two games lost to Eagles home and away and drew against Silver in both matches but Bullets beat Eagles once and defeated Silver home and away.

In football, if you want to be the best beat the best so Wanderers should blame themselves for failing to win the title in the just ended season. All in all, it is not the end of the world for the Nomads but they never forget the just ended season as they finished empty handed.

Mpinganjira in the last game of the season admitted that it was a difficult season to forget.

“We lost the league somewhere but we should not look back. We should be proud of the players for the showing great character throughout the season,” he said.

In 30 games, Bullets claimed maximum points in 21 games, two losses and seven draws. At home in 2019, Bullets were undefeated in 15 games but won 12 games and three draws. On the road, the Peoples Team, collected maximum points in nine games but lost two games and four draws.

On the part of Wanderers, they won 11 home games, two losses and two draws whereas on the road, the Lali Lubani outfit claimed 10 victories, four draws and one loss. Bullets were the highest scoring team in the league having netted 62 goals followed by Wanderers and Blue Eagles on 55 and 48 goals, respectively.

Bullets and Wanderers conceded least number of goals throughout the season after they let in 13 and 15 respectively.

For the first time in the domestic football, three central region teams got relegated from the TNM Super League after a disappointing campaign. Central region sides Masters Security FC, Mlantho Mponela and Dwangwa United all returned to the second-tier league.

In the just ended season, Silver Strikers forward Khuda Muyaba won the golden boot award having scored 21 goals-the first time a striker scored more than 20 goals in over a decade. Before Muyaba remarkable record, the last player to reach 20-goal mark in a league was former Wanderers striker Aggrey Kanyenda.

But Muyaba showed his class throughout the season.

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