October 26, 2021

Why Nyasa Big Bullets Struggles Against African heavyweights

Nyasa Big Bullets were knocked out of the CAF Champions League after Saturday’s 3-2 aggregate home loss to Amazulu. Bonginkosi Ntuli scored twice inside first eleven minutes to give the visitors 2-0 lead. The game turned after the break when Nyasa Big Bullets made a couple of substitutions. Henre Kabichi pulled one back from freekick four minutes after the break but Usuthu increased the lead few minutes later through Sphelele Mthembu to put the game beyond Bullets’ reach.
The elemination was the fourth consecutive at preliminary stage for the People’s Team who last reached ground stages in 2004.

It was worst performance displayed by Nyasa Big Bullets at home since fans started following them in CAF Champions League games. They managed to claim victories at home against African giants like Orlando Pirates, Zanaco, African Sport, Yanga and Gor Mahia while other heavyweights like Etoile du Sahel, Elhilal, Enyimba were held at home before but on Saturday the team struggled against CAF debutant like Amazulu FC.

Bullets was subdued by Amazulu’s victory

So why Nyasa Big Bullets struggles when at international level? Let’s have a closer look at them:

1. Lack of quality players. As compared with the squad that reached CAF Champions League group stages in 2004 you could see a very big difference with the current squad. 2004 squad full of top quality players. 65% of the first team players were regulars for the National Team contrary to today’s squad where only Chimwemwe Idana is the starter for the National Team.

2. Lack of squad depth. The Nyasa Big Bullets first eleven has been the same for the TNM Super League, FDH Bank Cup, Cecafa Kagame and CAF Champions League which clearly indicates that they don’t have quality at the bench. After Cecafa the coach tried to rest some of the key players but those that were given the chance did not impress until they lost to Moyale Barracks and then drew with Mzuzu United, an indication that the team lacks quality at the bench.

3. Poor squad balance. The people’s team has more forwards than other departments. In defence, they have one active right back, Gomezgani Chirwa while his backup Pilirani Zonda looks like his time is over. The departure of Charles Petro to Moldova and John Lanjesi’s long term injury has left the hole at the heart of the defence. Nickson Nyasulu is still learning while Sankhani Mkandawire and Miracle Gabeya makes so many costly blunders. They backup for Chirwa at the right back and two good center backs and some underperforming defenders needs to be wiped out of the team. Wings are dead since the departure of Fischer Kondowe. Only two wingers have been active that’s MacFarlane Mgwira and Misheck Seleman while others like Sailesi and Righteous Banda seems to be out of form so they need to beef up by bringing in wingers that are in form and release those inactive wingers.The other position that failed them is the midfield. They need a good back up for Chimwemwe Idana and since the departure of Mike Mkwate it seem they lack quality attacking midfielder.

4. Over-reliance on few players. The whole team has been struggling to play well when Chimwemwe Idana is not in form or not available. If Chiukepo Msowoya fails to score during international match that means the team will struggle to find the back of the net. So it seems the whole team depends on few individuals to carry the team.

5. The questionable Kalisto Pasuwa decisions. They signed Erick Kaonga to be Precious Sambani’s back up. Surprisingly Kaonga is not used for international games. Fodya was suspended, Pasuwa dropped Kaonga and he used Gomezgani Chirwa on the left flank instead of his usual right back position. Nickson Nyasulu was also improvised on the right flank.

6. Unpreparedness. They knew before season’s kickoff that they will participate in this year’s CAF champions League but they failed to beef up their squad in time. They started beefing up their squad after CAF registration so it was difficult for players like Erick Kaonga, Babatunde Adepoju and Antony Mfune to adapt Nyasa Big Bullets system quickly. The current administration needs to emulate what happened when this team reached CAF Champions League group stages sixteen years ago. The team bought country’s best players before the season and they traveled to UK with the whole squad in time for preseason trainings.

7. Poor Transfer Strategy. The team failed to buy good players to replace those that left the club because they targeted free agents. Only Peter Banda was replaced by Misheck Seleman but they failed to beef up their central defence after Charles Petro’s departure. They failed to replace Mike Mkwate all because they wanted to sign free agents. If they want to compete with African heavyweights they need to dig deep in their pockets and buy good players. Sundowns is an example, they are controlling South African football and they dominate African football because they are not stingy. Sheriff Tiraspol was one of the busiest teams during January window, they bought close to ten players all over the world now they have reached UCL group stages. Man City and Chelsea are dominating European football today because they believe in buying good players.

So If Nyasa Big Bullets wants to reach greater heights in Africa they need to buy good players across the country like what happened in 2004.

By Erik Chiputula

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