By Antony Isaiah Jr:….
Chawanangwa Gumbo’s first-half strike was enough to plague and render Blue Eagles their second defeat of the season at Mzuzu Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
After beating the points donors, Rumphi United on Friday afternoon, Blue Eagles finished their trip up north with a disappointing outing against the in-form Hammers.
The Cops were assigned two fixtures on road, up north to play against Rumphi and Ekwendeni Hammers, games that would see them curtailing the gap with Nyasa Big Bullets to just 6 as the people’s team were held by Silver Strikers at Bingu National Stadium.
The Cops travelled up north with the aim of collecting maximum points to intensify the league championship race and Captain Schumacker made it clear that they already had six points in their bag.
“We are 100% prepared to get 6 points at end of the week. In short, we have six points in the bag. We are dealing with all the teams that defeated us last season. All is not lost as the journey still goes. I should promise that at the end of this season, they will hear that Blue Eagles are the 2022 tnm Super League. The morale is just high!!” Said Kuwali.
However, things have not gone as planned as Hammers were ready for them.
Eliya Kananji had to make three changes from the team that confirmed Rumphi’s departure from the elite league as John Soko replaced Chakonda Majanga, Osward Maonga came in for Ian Chinyama while Gilbert Chirwa replaced Stuart Mbunge.
Ekwendeni Hammers Coach, Gilbert Chirwa entrusted Milla Chiyenda in goals, Harry Nyirenda (C) , Emmanuel Kaunga , Jimmy Msiska , Chikumbutso Henderson, Ganizani Mulomba, Yesaya Nyirenda, Blessings Singini, Gift Chunga, Wongani Lungu and Chawanangwa Gumbo
It was a highly-tempered game as both teams were in need of the maximum points and referee Mercy Kaira had to flash two yellow cards to Jimmy Msiska and Micium Mhone after confrontation to settle the tempers.
Micium Mhone tried to have his mojo as rifled a heavy shot from distant but Milias was very attentive and equal to the task.
As people were hoping to see no goals in the first half, that’s when Chawanangwa Gumbo arouse up to the occasion as he unleashed a beautiful volley beating Soko after Emmanuel Kaunda swung a cross from the flank.
Eagles had to come with another plan in second half as they were the first on the ball, but breaking Harry Nyirenda’s led defence was an uphill for them.
Ekwendeni Hammers nearly got the second as they launched a counter attack but Wongani Lungu’s shot flew off target before Gift Chunga missed a clear cut chance in the 70th minute.
Eliya Kananji made four Substitutions as he brought, Ian Chinyama, Laurent Banda, Chifuniro Mpinganjira and Christopher Gototo for Gaddie Chirwa,Schumacher Kuwali, Maxwell Gustavo and Micium Mhone while Hammers threw Yohane Nkhoma in for Wongani Lungu.
𝐖𝐇𝐀𝐓 𝐃𝐎𝐄𝐒 𝐈𝐓 𝐌𝐄𝐀𝐍?
Ekwendeni Hammers are now safe from relegation chop as they have managed to amass 13 points from their last 5 games, winning 4 and drawing one. They are number 10 with 31 points.
Since the appointment of Gilbert Chirwa as the Head Coach for the team, Hammers have played 9 games, winning five, drawing 2 and losing 2 and they have seen themselves out of the relegation zone with three games to go.
The first win for the team under Chirwa’s mentorship was against Sable Farming when they beat the Chiradzulu-based farmers by 2 goals to nill before a thumping 4-0 victory over Dedza Dynamos.
Their resurgence continued with a hard-fought 1-0 victory away from home in Balaka against Red Lions before another master class performance against Karonga United a game that they ruthless hammered the Crocodiles by four goals to nill and 1-0 victory over Blue Eagles a big statement that they are not the favourites of relegation.
As for Blue Eagles, they have missed the chance to cut the gap with the table-toppers, Nyasa Big Bullets to 6 points and they will travel to Blantyre next weekend for a tough game against the People’s team.
This is their second defeat of the season after being stunned by TN Stars on July 10 this year.
They remain number 2 with 49 points from 23 games.