Nyasa Big Bullets last evening qualified for the Kagame Cecafa Interclub Cup final after beating Tanzania’s Azam FC 4-2 in post-match penalties at their backyard Azam Complex also known as Chamazi Stadium in Dar es Salaam.
In a match monitored on Azam Television, Bullets, who failed to utilise several chances in open play as the two sides tied 2-2 after extra time, face Express FC of Uganda in the final on Saturday.
Bullets assistant coach Peter Mponda carefully picked his players suitable for the tie.
He opted for experience by throwing in goalkeeper Ernest Kakhobwe, central defenders Sankhani Mkandawire and Nixon Nyasulu while right-back Gomezgani Chirwa and left-back Yamikani Fodya made good runs down the flanks.
Chimango Kayira also got a place in the starting XI as defending midfielder while captain Chimwemwe Idana and McFarlen Mgwila were deployed as attacking midfielders.
From the onset, it was clear Mponda was hungry for goals as he started with three experienced strikers in Bright Munthali, Babatunde Adepoje and Chiukepo Msowoya.
It was little wonder that it took just two minutes for the People’s Team to get a goal when Munthali got on the end of Mgwila’s cross to finish with precision, beating Azam goalkeeper Benedict Haule.
Thereafter, Bullets went on to dominate every moment of that first half as if it was the last minute of the match and with heroic defending, Bullets were still in control at the break.
But in the second half, pressure from Azam was just overwhelming for Bullets and it was obvious a goal from the hosts was inevitable.
In an attempt to add fire power, Mponda made changes. He pulled out Chiukepo and introduced Hassan Kajoke while Precious Phiri replaced Babatunde.
Mkandawire was forced out due to an injury and was replaced by Miracle Gabeya.
Soon after the substitution, Nyasulu gifted the hosts with an own goal, guiding in Paul’s effort in the 69th minute.
Three minutes later Gabeya conceded a free-kick and the hosts took a lead through a Tepsie Evance header from Oscar Masai set piece.
But just when hope was gone for Bullets fans back home, Munthali levelled with another fantastic finish from a Phiri assist to take the match into extra time.
In post-match penalties, Bullets’ Fodya, Kajoke, Kayira and Nyasulu converted while Gabeya’s effort was saved.
So Bullets’ fairy-tale in the tournament, which saw them unbeaten having drawn twice against Express and Young Africans and winning once against Atlabara in the group stage, continues.
The feat made them the first guest team to reach the final since the inception of the tournament.
Mighty Tigers, then Admarc Tigers, made it to the final in 1983 and lost to AFC Leopards of Kenya when Malawi was a member of Council for East and Central Africa Football Associations (Cecafa).