Nyasa Big Bullets’ journey in the FISD Challenge Cup again came to an end on Saturday afternoon after succumbing to a 3-2 penalty shootout defeat at the hands of Silver Strikers at the Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe.
The People’s team dominated the quarter-final clash and Chimwemwe Idana gave Kalisto Pasuwa’s side a 47th minute lead before Michael Tete equalized for the hosts in the 75th minute for the game to be decided through spot kicks.
Bullets made two changes to the squad that defeated Mzuni FC in a league match last week, bringing on board Sankhani Mkandawire and Ernest Kakhobwe for Yamikani Fodya and Rabson Chiyenda.
Mike Mkwate, Chimwemwe Idana, Peter Banda and Hassan Kajoke dominated the opening stages of the game but the youngsters could not break the hosts’ defense led by Helbert Wayekha and Hadji Wali.
Banda had his long range shot well saved by Brighton Munthali before another attempt from Mkwate was blocked by Wayekha for a corner.
At the other end of the field, the Central Bankers should have taken a lead when Maxwell Gasten’s through ball found Khuda Muyaba inside Bullets’ penalty box but his goal bound shot was well blocked by Charles Petro’s brilliant tackle.
With less than 10 minutes to play, Chiukepo Msowoya should have done better when Banda’s cross from the left flank of the field found him unmarked but the forward blasted his effort wide off Munthali’s goal area.
In the second half, Bullets took the lead in a brilliant fashion when Silver Strikers’ defense was caught napping in the line of duty. Banda dribbled past Hygiene Mwendepeka before releasing a dead ball inside the box to force Munthali into making a save that landed on Idana’s foot and the midfielder made no mistake to slot past the defenseless goalkeeper, 1-0.
Moments later, injured Kajoke was substituted for Dalitso Sailesi following his collision with Mwendepeka in the last minutes of the first half.
Sensing danger, the hosts made a double substitution, introducing Levison Maganizo and Thuso Paipi for Jack Chiona and Gasten.
These were the changes that the Bankers needed as they started taking the game away from Bullets, who were slowly losing the midfield battle.
Munthali was then called into action to deny Idana from scoring his second goal when Bullets invaded the Bankers’ territory through Sailesi who was causing trouble to Wali.
In the 74thminute, Mkandawire went down and called for a medical assistance and it was this moment that the Bankers capitalized to level the scoreline.
A cross from Duncan Nyoni into the box found unmarked Tete who wasted no time to make a simple finish past Kakhobwe who could have done nothing to stop the ball from kissing the back of the net, 1-1.
Pasuwa introduced Luke Chima and Fischer Kondowe for Msowoya and Mkwate.
Kakhobwe was called into action twice to deny Maganizo and Tete from scoring towards the end of the match.
The Bankers made their final change with seconds to go, replacing ‘keeper Munthali for Charles Thom in readiness for the penalties and after a minute of stoppage time, the two teams could not settle the match in regulation time and the winner had to be decided on lottery.
Kondowe and Petro both scored for The People’s Team but it was Mkandawire, Gomezgani Chirwa and Sailesi who missed their penalties to hand Silver Strikers, who converted their spot kicks through Duncan Nyoni, Thuso Paipi and Mark Fodya, a 3-2 victory. The Bankers had Khuda Muyaba and Young Chimodzi Jnr on the missing list.
Peter Banda was named Man of the Match.