The Sunday News
Langton Nyakwenda in Blantyre, Malawi
Nyasa Big Bullets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0
FC Platinum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0
IT was a battle fought on foreign soil, between two coaches regarded by many as Zimbabwe’s best football brains and as hugely expected, Kalisto Pasuwa and Norman Mapeza served a sumptuous football dish that left Malawian fans asking for more at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre yesterday.
The score line was not a true reflection of this exciting Caf Champions League preliminary round first leg duel between Pasuwa’s Nyasa Big Bullets and Mapeza’s FC Platinum.
Pasuwa, who was known for his highly precautionary and defensive football when he was still with Dynamos five years ago, seems to have totally changed his philosophy as his charges played an exciting brand of football and had the lion’s share of possession although the Malawi champions could not convert that dominance into goals.
FC Platinum were resolute in defence, which was marshalled by skipper of the day Kelvin Madzongwe.
Mapeza applied a 3-5-2 formation, tasked wingers Rahman Kutsanzira and Gift Mbweti with the job of running up and down the flanks, a tactic that worked for most of the match.
Pasuwa’s Bullets played some eye catching football, their youthful players were never overawed by the situation and even had the more experienced FC Platinum on the back foot for most of the game.
Nyasa Big Bullets could have won the contest right at the death but substitute Bright Munthali’s effort crashed against the post in the 86th minute, with Wallace Magalane, in goals for the visitors, a beaten man.
Mapeza welcomed the result and also hailed Pasuwa’s Nyasa Big Bullets project.
“They (Nyasa Big Bullets) are a very good team, full of youngsters. It was a good feeling meeting Pasuwa, we have met back home (in the local league) but this was good,” Mapeza said.
“I hear that their (Bullets) supporters are very demanding and my wish is that he (Pasuwa) keeps working hard.
“If they give him (Pasuwa) more time he will build them a very good squad,” said Mapeza who apart from being managed by the same manager, Gibson Mahachi, as Pasuwa, the two are also childhood friends.
“It’s a fantastic result, we wanted to win and the guys worked hard. We need to keep working hard and see what happens in the return leg,” added Mapeza.
The return leg is set for Barbourfields in Bulawayo in a fortnight. And Pasuwa, who has totally changed the complexion of Nyasa Big Bullets’ game, is threatening to attack FC Platinum from the onset when the two sides meet in the return leg.
“It’s still game on, we starting 90 minutes in Zimbabwe. The same way they came here and drew 0-0 we can also do it. It will be an interesting game, we are not going to defend, we will attack,” declared Pasuwa, who also took time to shed more light on his stay in Malawi. It (Nyasa project) has been coming slowly, we had to change the players who were playing last season. We have most of our boys who are Under-23, maybe only three are over 23. They are still learning, learning the hard way.”
FC Platinum had the first real chance of the game but Cameroonian forward Albert Eonde lobbed the ball beyond the keeper and the bar after only five minutes.
“It was a very tactical match, we were playing a more experienced side who were keeping the ball away from us.
“I am very close to Mapeza, he is a man I grew up with in the same neighbourhood (of Chitungwiza). He is a very close friend and we are being managed by the same manager. Everything we do we are close but we also need results and our jobs too,” remarked Pasuwa.