Blue Eagles are through to the quarter finals of the Carlsberg Cup after beating Ekwendeni Hammers 3-1 in post match penalties after a goalless 90 minutes on Wednesday at Mzuzu Stadium in a very exciting match.
Ekwendeni Hammers were enjoying their game with beautiful passes on the floor and entertained spectators with excellent dribbles and a lion’s share of possession but they could not shoot past the Eagles keeper John Soko who was also wearing the captain’s arm band and in charge of the Lilongwe based corps.
The two sides went back to their respective dressing rooms for recess with the scoreboard reading nil-nil.
The first closest chance in the second half was for Ekwendeni Hammers in the 58th minute when Robert Mphezi’s shot missed the target with just a whisker.
The corps resorted to a fast attacking game with long passes in the second half in a desperate search for a goal but towering central midfielder Noneson Mbewe for Hammers was able to absorb pressure in the middle of the park, allowing his defenders to clear dangerous balls with ease.
The Eagles would have scored a winner just a minute before full time but Kingsley Kuwali’s header, unmarked, went wide off the mark.
When 90 minutes remained elusive, veteran referee George Aziz Nyirenda called for dreaded penalties to decide the winner.
It was penalties that separated boys from men as the corps took their spot kicks with visible experience while Hammers players were not sure of themselves as they took their penalties.
Kumbukani Botha was the first penalty taker for Ekwendeni Hammers and he ballooned the ball over the cross bar. Bright Mhone converted his spot kick for Hammers but Blue Eagles captain and goalkeeper, John Soko, saved penalties that were poorly taken by Ephraim Chinula and Joseph Mbewe.
The corps scored their first two penalties through Maxwell Salambula and Mike Nyondo, in that order, but Gregory Nachipo’s kick which was third for the Eagles was saved by Hammers goalie Frank Kayira.
Steve Chagoma took the corps’ fourth penalty kick and sent the goalkeeper the wrong way to bring the score line to 3-1in favour of his team and the two sides could not go on to take their fifth penalties.
Team Manager for Ekwendeni Hammers, Mabuchi Mkandawire, praised his charges for a gallant fight in the cup up to the round of sixteen. He congratulated Blue Eagles for sailing through to the last eight.
The winning coach, Deklerk Msakakuona, said cup games are difficult and Ekwendeni Hammers were not an easy side but his side’s experience in post match penalties was crucial for their win.
“It is our wish to clinch the Carlsberg Cup just as we did with the Airtel Top 8 Cup. We know it’s not easy but we will sit down and plan well for the forthcoming games,” explained Msakakuona.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :