Airtel Top 8 Round-up: No signal yet in Blantyre

The 2018 edition of Airtel Top 8 Cup concluded on Sunday, July 1, 2018 with Blue Eagles of the National Police Headquarters in Lilongwe becoming only the second team to win the coveted trophy after edging giants Nyasa Big Bullets 1-0 in a David versus Goliath encounter played before a large crowd at Bingu National Stadium in the capital city.

Football kings of Airtel Top 8, Blue Eagles .-photo by Leonard Sharra, Nyasa Times

Fischer Kondowe with the ball during the finals -photo by Leonard Sharra

A lot has been said about the violence that spoiled the party at the eleventh hour but there is much to write home about the final match itself and the entire competition, which has gone down in history as one of the stiffest tournaments ever.

Prior to the final match, Bullets were touted as strong favorites to win the trophy after dismissing their rivals Mighty Be Forward Wanderers in the semi-finals. However, the situation proved different on the pitch against the cops from Area 30, who dominated the proceedings from the word go before being rewarded with the contentious penalty that won them the match in added time.

In fact, the security men could have arrested the cigaret manufacturers before the elapse of 90 minutes had they been economical with the chances they created in both halves.

But such has been the nature of this year’s competition, which only registered 12 goals from the total of 11 games played. This is in sharp contrast to last year, when just a two-legged quarterfinal involving Blue Eagles and Kamuzu Barracks (KB) produced eight goals as the soldiers overpowered the policemen 4-2 and 2-0 in the first and second legs respectively.

The highest score during the just ended edition was recorded during the semi-final clash involving Bullets and Wanderers, which ended 2-1 in favor of the former. The rest of the games ended with 1-0 or 0-0 score-lines.

Only three goals were enough to earn the law enforcers the trophy and the ultimate prize of K15 million. The Eagles defeated Mafco 1-0 during the quarterfinals and went on to beat Silver Strikers and Bullets by the same margin during the semi-final and final respectively.

In terms of attendance, the Blue Eagles/Bullets final and Bullets/Wanderers semi-final matches at Bingu Stadium were the most attractive games for this year, grossing about K39 million apiece in gate collections. This was K15 million short of the K54 million all-time-record gross collected during last year’s final involving Silver Strikers and Be-Forward Wanderers at the same Stadium.

With two of the three Top 8 editions on the contract between Football Association of Malawi (Fam) and Airtel Malawi concluded, only Lilongwe teams- Silver Strikers and Blue Eagles have won the cup at the expense of the Blantyre based giants Wanderers and Bullets, who have both come to the final as hot favorites but failed to find the Airtel signal.

During the inaugural final at Bingu Stadium last year, Wanderers lost 10-9 to Silver in post-match penalties in a game they were highly tipped to win after an impressive start to the season.

Below is a summary of results for the 2018 Airtel Top 8 edition

Quarterfinals

Bullets 1 Moyale 0                           Moyale 0 Bullets 0

KB 0 Wanderers 1                            Wanderers 1 KB 0

Eagles 1 Mafco 0                              Mafco 0 Eagles 0

Silver 1 Civil Sporting 0                   Civil Sporting 1 Silver 1

 

Semi-finals

Silver 0 Blue Eagles 1

Bullets 2 Wanderers 1

 

Final

Blue Eagles 1 Bullets 0

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