Barely 24 hours after bowing down to military outfit Kamuzu Barracks, defending TNM Super League champions Nyasa Big Bullets FC made a dramatic recovery to demolish Civo United 2-0 in their next league assignment in the capital city played at Civo Stadium.
The game was, however, marred by incompetent officiation from referee Brighton Gwiricho, whose second half decisions led to some chaos both on and off-the-pitch in the second half.
The first half was without any incidents as Bullets led the hosts through a Muhamad Sulumba fine header of a Henry Kabichi cross that came 12 minutes into the game.
Drama ensured in the 57th minute when Gwilicho blew for a foul on a Bullets’ player before Manyenje let go a 30-metre cracker, which Civo goalkeeper Innocent Phiri did not even attempt to stop after hearing the ref’s whistle.
To the surprise of many, Gwilicho pointed at the centre spot, drawing heavy protests from Civo players as Bullets’ players and fans burst into celebrations.
After the intervention of the match commissioner and other match officials, Gwilicho invited the two captains and reversed the goal to award Bullets a free-kick.
Bullets’ players and fans vehemently protested the decision with the entire team walking off-the field. Some Bullets supporters also caused havoc at the VIP stand, attacking a Zodiac Broadcasting Station analyst Frank Kalilombe, whom they accused of influencing the match officials action.
Calm was later restored and Bullets accepted to take the free-kick, which was wasted. Manyenje calmed the spirits in the Bullets’ camp after 69 minutes when he broke loose on the right flank to beat Phiri in a one-on-one situation.
Before the 10-minute stoppage, Gwilicho had also angered the Bullets’ camp after waving play on when a Civo defender appeared to have handled in the box as Sulumba tried to lob the ball over the defender.
Civo coach Millias ‘Jegwe’ Pofera conceded the defeat, saying his side did not create any scoring chances.
Bullets’ team manager Rahim Ishmael described the win as a relief.
“It could have been bad for us to go back to Blantyre without a point or with a single point and we are happy to go back with something after losing on Saturday,” said Ishmael.
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