Mighty ‘Nyerere’ Wanderers eliminated rivals Big Bullets 5-4 in a dramatic penalty shoot-out in Lilongwe on Saturday to send the blues into the finals of K20 million Standard Bank Knock-out Cup in a grueling semi final clash played at Silver Stadium in Lilongwe.
Despite expectations of a large turn-out, there were a lot of empty seats both at the VIP/Covered and Open stands as Football Association of Malawi’s (Fam) decision to hike gate fees from K200 to K1,000 per person backfired badly.
Many fans stayed away from the match and others chose to watch an English Premier League clash involving Arsenal and Chelsea on television which the European Champions won 1-2.
Before the match, players observed a one minute silence in honour of Football Association of Malawi (Fam) president Walter Nyamilandu’s wife, who died earlier in a car accident at Phalula in Ntcheu as the family was traveling to Lilongwe for the match.
Going back onto the field of play, Wanderers were the first to create a real scoring opportunity, when Diverson Chilemba’s powerful header of a Gerald Phiri Junior corner kick was cleared off-the line by Chimango Kaira.
Bullets replied by piling more pressure on the Nomads’ goal, forcing four consecutive corner kicks on the half hour.
Their efforts paid off in the 38th minute, when Diverson Mlozi scored the opening goal following a mix up in Wanderers’ central defence marshaled by Foster Namwera.
The Nomads trailed 1-0 at half time but with just seven minutes remaining on the clock substitute Cuthbert Sinetre, who went in for ineffective Albert Mpinganjira Junior leveled the scoresafter being set by Innocent Dzimbili.
With the teams tied at 1-all after 90 minutes, the game went straight into penalty shootouts.
Wanderers converted three spot kicks through Sinetre, Gerald Chimbaka, Namwera and Joseph Kamwendo but Gerald Phiri Junior’s kick was saved by Bullets goalkeeper Owen Chaima.
Bullets’ James Chilapondwa, Peter Mpulula and Gabadinho Mhango also converted but Dalitso Silva and George Nyirenda had their penalty kicks saved by Wanderers goalie Richard Chipuwa.
Bullets coach Eddie Ng’onamo accepted the loss, blaming it on a defensive blunder, which resulted into the Nomads’ equalizer.
His counterpart Felix Fosco praised his charges for playing to instructions.
“We told them not to panic in the second half and we kept our composure until we got the equalizer,” said Fosco.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :