The Sunday Mail
KALLISTO PASUWA has hailed his team, Nyasa Big Bullets, for their determination and discipline following the Malawi football kings’ 1-0 upset victory over Benni McCarthy’s fancied South African outfit AmaZulu in a CAF Champions League encounter in Durban on Friday night.
The former Dynamos and Warriors coach was forced into a tactical switch an hour into the game when his left-back, Yamikani Fodya, was sent off for a second-bookable offence.
It might be early days yet in the Champions League marathon, but Pasuwa and his men will no doubt take the victory as a huge confidence booster as they seek to advance beyond the preliminary round.
Pasuwa, however, insisted he would not want his charges to get carried away with the win, but lauded their industry in a tough away assignment.
He told The Sunday Mail Sport that he has been preaching the gospel of grit in the Champions League to his players, something he learnt over the years in shifts at Harare giants Dynamos in their continental sojourns.
“The idea was always to keep shape and not try to be too adventurous.
“I also told the guys to put 110 percent so as to compensate for the defender we had lost through the red card.
“It was all about work rate and running like there is no tomorrow,’’ Pasuwa said.
He is also cognisant of the fact that McCarthy and his men have the capacity to turn around the tie.
“This was just the first round of 90 minutes and it’s now water under the bridge. There is still a second leg to try and defend the lead we have. “So, for now, I am not really worried about the confidence levels because there is zeal from the players to do better than they did today (Friday night).
“Of course, confidence might be dangerous at times if it is too much, but with grit and hard work, you won’t go wrong in these kinds of matches.”
A serial championship winner with Dynamos, Pasuwa said he had also been emphasising to his Nyasa Big Bullets bosses the need for his charges to even put in more into their preparations ahead of the reverse fixture.
Bullets found themselves on the back-foot early into the game as their hosts pressed for a breakthrough. According to reports from Durban, Usuthu had a strong start but Big Bullets were not overawed and snatched the lead following the opening half-hour mark after Chiukepo Msowoya pounced on a goalkeeping error by Veli Mothwa.
The joy was, however, shortlived as a strong challenge by Yamikani Fodya near the danger area led to his marching orders.
It forced the Malawian team to finish the game with 10 players.
Usuthu could have been level before half-time after a flowing move down the right freed Maduna, who hoofed Lehlohonolo Majoro’s cutback over the top from close range.
Big Bullets made a change minutes before the interval by introducing Precious Phiri for goal-scorer and former Orlando Pirates striker, Msowoya.
AmaZulu spurned another big chance two minutes after half-time with a header from close range by lanky substitute Siphelele Mthembu going over the top.
The hosts kept piling on pressure inside the final stages in the hope of finding a way back, but Memela and Philani Zulu’s adventures came to naught.
They also had a goal disallowed.
In late drama, Usuthu’s Keagan Buchanan struck the woodwork twice from two close-range attempts, while Tapelo Xoki spurned a free-kick, as Bullets stunned AmaZulu.
And now former Warriors gaffer Pasuwa, who also coached Dynamos in the Champions League, knows the South Africans will come guns blazing in the second leg.
But, for now, the 51-year-old coach can have some fun in the sun after his team’s bright start.