While it could be too early to start writing obituaries, the signs are pretty clear that Mighty Wanderers could be headed for relegation to the second-tier Southern Region Football League (SRFL) if their current mediocrity continues.
Battered, bruised and barely recognisable as giants, the Nomads yesterday slipped into their worst position ever on the top-flight league table when swashbuckling Big Bullets condemned them to their fifth league defeat in eight games this season with a 2-0 win at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre.
In contrast, Nomads’ age-old rivals’ remarkable recovery continued and they are now second with 17 points from seven games. Bullets are still the only team yet to test defeat, a clear sign that this could be their season after 10 years in the wilderness.
The Nomads are bottom of the table with a single point, three points behind rookies Chikwawa United who were at the bottom until Saturday when they chalked their first win over Red Lions.
Dismissed as a dying contest in recent times, the Blantyre derby stormed back to life courtesy of a vintage display by Bullets that took the fans down memory lane.
Jimmy Zakazaka turned back the hands of time to 10 years when he was dubbed the ‘weapon of mass destruction’ by revered Zambian soccer commentator Dennis Liwewe. He struck the opener in the 18th minute.
Under pressure Wanderers defender Peter Mselema, who otherwise had a grand game, handled the ball in the goal area and from the resultant free kick, Zakazaka dinked the ball craftily over the wall and ‘keeper Richard Chipuwa could not help, but watch starry-eyed as it flew into the net.
The Nomads appeared fragile in central midfield, moving sluggishly to counter their pacy and inventive rivals with Henry Kabichi and veteran Fischer Kondowe at the hub of the Bullets moves while Zakazaka appeared handful to the Nomads defence with his defty touches.
As if to underline their dominance, Bullets had five corners in the first-half against only one for the Nomads.
Precisely what gentle words of encouragement delivered by coach Gerald Phiri at half-time remain firmly in the classified category, but suddenly there was renewed purpose in Nomads’ play. They passed the ball around with remarkable grace, but sadly, were awful in front of goal as strikers Kondwani Kumwenda and Diverson Chilemba took turns to miss from close range.
And just when many thought the Nomads would snatch an equaliser, Bullets scored the second with four minutes to full time when striker Tizgowere Kumwenda capitalised on a defensive error by Enock Likoswe and in a blink of an eye, he dinked to his left before coolly slotting the ball past Chipuwa.
It was now dancing time as the Nomads danced to Bullets’ passing game.
A visibly dejected Phiri, donning a black corduroy suit with some brown patches, hit out at some of his charges, blaming them of lacking commitment.
“There is neither commitment nor purpose from some players. It is as if we are forcing them to play and the only way out will be to ring some changes in the second round,” said Phiri.
Bullets assistant coach Mabvuto Lungu said while Wanderers had better ball possession, “we played with a purpose and in the end we got what we wanted.”
Moyale Barracks are at the summit of the log table with 19 points from nine games whereas Blue Eagles are third with 16 points from eight games following their 0-1 loss to Silver Strikers at Nankhaka on Sunday.