It is unusual for both Blantyre United and Mafco FC coaches to step away from their coaching bench and express a similar level of rueful disappointment after the 2-all draw on Sunday.
That was the case on Sunday, when Blantyre United coach Leo Mpulula lamented how Mphembedzu were to cling on to what would have been a satisfying victory, followed by Stereo Gondwe for Mafco airing his deep frustration with the draw.
Mpulula was distinctly unimpressed with his team’s habit of enjoying possession but conceding self-inflicted goals due to defensive lapses. And it costed them deeply on Sunday.
Following this result, Blantyre United have 21 points, 7 points behind Airborne Rangers and, with 2 games to wrap up the season, they are down and out.
For the Salima based soldiers, the consolation of a draw salvaged by a late combination between Martin Masoatheka and Calisto Kalinda certainly reduces the heat that was beginning to boil up inside the barracks towards the end of the game when one of their players was given marching orders.
It was an odd, jerking see-saw of a contest.
Blantyre United began in such casual mood Mafco could have been in charge early on as they created a string of chances. Blantyre United goalkeeper, excelled to beat down a drive from Saidi Mtekama and then tip over Masoatheka pearl of a curling shot.
The initial sluggishness from the home side was punished in virtuoso style by Sadick Wachimwa in the 13th minute. Masoatheka run down the right propelled him into the box, and he struck early – low and lethal – to give Mafco the lead.
Not for long. Calisto Kalinda’s powerful weaving run carved through the heart of Leo Mpulula’s makeshift defence. Innocent Jere the emergency centre-half to cover the defence from the midfield, showed scant resistance.
Blantyre United centre back was too easily pulled away, and Kalinda dinked finish was cooly executed.
It got much worse for Mafco as they started the second half as if in a distant reverie.
Straight from kick-off Blantyre United passed the ball neatly and found Abraham Kamwendo on the
right flank. There were plenty of home defenders in the box as he crossed, but movement was so switched on, so alert, he ruthlessly exposed Mafco defence to equalize for Blantyre United.
Mafco strained to get a foothold back in the game. Their play was intricate, and Blantyre United
defensive and midfield blocks presented a formidable barrier.
The trio of Innocent Jere, Abraham Kamwendo, and Jide showed great resolve.
Blantyre United bench was thick with frustration.
Assistant coach Heston Munthali looked stressed on the touchline. The atmosphere was tempestuous.
Blantyre United came close when Joe Khomani ghosted in to glance in a fine header – matched by a superb tip-over from Mafco coach.
Finally, Blantyre United made the difference with a spurt of inspiration and a clever assist for Taonga Malasa , who finished smartly with his right foot.
However, towards the end of the match almost 7 minutes before regulation time, Calisto Kalinda broke Blantyre United hearts when he scored an equalizer.
“It’s the fourth time we have conceded late in the fame,” said Mpulula.
Mpulula was annoyed. “I We had 80% possession and only one point.”
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