Mafco 7 (6)
Bullets 8 (7)
They just needed a last sip to book themselves a Carlsberg Cup semi-final berth but that proved a tall order for wasteful Mafco FC, alias the Soccer Instructors, who allowed defending cup champions Big Bullets to rise from the graveyard and haunt them as the two soccer gurus clashed in a pulsating quarterfinal encounter watched by a huge crowd at Civo Stadium in Lilongwe.
It was a gruelling match fit for a cup final as action swung from this end to the other end right from the first whistle.
As the first half progressed, chances started availing themselves for the Soccer Instructors but their strikers Callisto Kalinda and Richard Mbulu were simply not up to the task.
On 28 minutes Kalinda failed to connect the ball into the net from deep inside the penalty box after winning the ball against Bullets’ defender Yamikani Fodya.
It was midfielder Maurice Chiumia, who finally found the net for the Salima based soldiers after beating Bullets goalkeeper Vincent Gona in an aerial combat.
Half time whistle caught Bullets trailing 1-0 but the defending champions had their gods to thank for conceding the lone goal in the first 45 minutes.
The soldiers had to pay for their first half sins barely two minutes after restart when striker Jafali Chande levelled for Bullets after picking a rebound from his own shot which was spilled by Mafco goalkeeper Jailos Kapalamula.
Bullets were all over the soldiers after netting the equaliser but were dealt a body blow afterwards when hard working Fodya failed to continue with play following a knock on his chest.
He was replaced by Chikumbutso Kanyenda who failed to match the Flames’ left back’s pace. As expected, the ‘People’s team’ lived dangerously on the knife edge after Fodya’s departure but lack of the killer instinct denied the Instructors from Salima the second goal.
Mbulu was the guilty one for Mafco in the last half as he failed to beat Gona in a one-on-one situation with only eight minutes to go. The striker lobbed the ball over the veteran goalkeeper and the goal with Bullets’ defenders chasing him at a distance.
With the scores level at one-all after 90 minutes, the match went straight into the dreaded penalty shoot-outs.
Mafco converted their first four kicks but Bullets had their second penalty taken by Bashir Maunde saved by Kapalamula, leaving Mafco’s Hassan Chapola with a task of converting the last kick for Mafco and set the celebration tone. Chapola unbelievably shot wide to bring Bullets back into contention.
Fischer Kondowe brilliantly converted Bullets’ fifth penalty to force the game into the sudden death kicks.
Bullets were one foot into the semi-finals when Gona saved Mafco’s sixth penalty by Mbulu but Chande failed to pronounce the soldiers’ sudden death as he also had his spot-kick saved by Kapalamula.
Fortune knocked again on Bullets’ door when Gona stopped Martin Masoatheka’s penalty kick, handing Dalitso Sailesi the responsibility of pronouncing Mafco’s sudden death.
Sailesi made no mistake from the spot to send Bullets fans into wild celebrations.
Coach Mabvuto Lungu admitted things were not okey for his side inside regulation time but saluted his charges for keeping their nerve.
“It was a very tough game for us and matters got even worse when we lost defender Yamikani Fodya to injury but I must salute the boys for keeping their nerves and winning it on penalties.
“We will go back to the drawing board and analyse our weaknesses before facing Silver Strikers in the semi-finals,” said Lungu.
His counterpart Thomas Maloya Senior blamed it on the missed opportunities.
“We could have buried the game in regulation time but we missed so many opportunities. We were also unlucky in the shoot-outs but that’s how football goes and congratulations to Bullets,” said Maloya.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :