2024-07-13

Mapira’s fabulous performance saves Wanderers

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By Antony Isaiah Jr:…..

Winter signing goalkeeper, Piliran Mapira produced a man-of-the-match performance on Sunday afternoon to put his team one leg in the semifinals of the Airtel Top 8 Cup in a game that Mighty Mukuru Wanderers beat Mafco FC 2-0.

Two first-half goals from Francis Mkonda and Vincent Nyangulu were enough for Mighty Mukuru Wanderers to go into the second leg which will be played at Chitowe with a 2-goal advantage.

WHAT HAPPENED? Smarting from a 1-0 defeat to Blue Eagles last weekend, Mighty Mukuru Wanderers headed into the game against the Salima based Soldiers with the aim of leaping back to the winning ways.

But for the mission to be done, the goalkeeper, Mapira had to put his hand in it as he stood equal to the anger and intensity of Mafco players’ who were looking for a goal at Kamuzu Stadium.

Mapira had to avoid Mafco from equalising from the spot after Francis Mkonda had put the Nomads in front in the 3rd minutes after connecting home Sanudi’s well-taken free-kick from the right flank.

After Wanderers had stroke first, Mafco through former Nyasa Big Bullets Reserve players, Auspicious Kadzongolo and David Daudi who silenced Chimwemwe Idana in the team’s 1-0 win at Dedza Stadium, controlled the proceedings and it laid dividends when referee Mercy Kaira judged Miracle Gabeya to have handed the ball inside the 18-yard area.

Mphatso Philimon took the responsibility to take the penalty buy his saw his unambitiuous spot being saved by Piliran Mapira who has completely displaced Richard Chipuwa between the sticks.

Mafco’s defence torn apart by Yamikani Chester and the pacey attacker rifled a thunderbolt but Blessings Kameza flew out to latch it but two minutes later, Wanderers thickened their lead.

Lively Chester broke through the left flank, slotting the ball the Vincent Nyangulu who calmly nodded the ball home to announce their seriousness of trying to take the trophy to Lari Luban that had been dry for the past four years.

After the recess, Mafco were a better side and Mapira was called into the thick of action when the visitors had a huge slice of fortune and the goalkeeper kept the ball away and he sustained an injury after colliding with Mphatso Philimon.

Mapira, again came out with another touch of brilliance as he saved the ball in a one on one affair.

The temple of the game for Mafco rose up with the introduction of Richard Mbulu and Peter Kasonga and the hosts had to survive within the skin of their teeth knowing that conceding a goal at home would bite them in the return leg.

Against the run of play, Mighty Mukuru Wanderers nearly grabbed the third goal through Francis Mkonda. Substitute Wisdom Mpinganjira swung a cross from the left flank and it went straight to Chiukepo Msowoya who headed down for Mkonda to put it behind the net but the midfielder skied the ball over the bar from close-range before Sulumba saw his left-foot effort went into the palms of goalkeeper, Blessings Kameza.

SANUDI RETURNS WITH ANOTHER DEPTH

After missing several games , Captain Sanudi made his first start for the team since an embarrassing 4-0 defeat to Nyasa Big Bullets in the semifinals of the FDH Bank Cup at Bingu National Stadium.

In his absence, Ahamadu Kung’unde who was promoted from the reserve side took over his position and the young man had a convincing performance in his first start for the team and he won the man of the match award.

Alex Ngwira has shifted to a back-three formation but previously in absence of Sanudi it has been working well as Yamikani Chester was being used as a wing-back.

The return of Sanudi saw Mighty Mukuru Wanderers regaining their threat when going forward and solid at the back.

Sanudi with his pace and precision has been a threat when playing as wing-back, driving the team forward with intelligent runs and delivering hatful of eye-inviting crosses.

Slick interplay on the right flank allowed Sanudi to pick the ball in the offensive half and burst forward before being pulled down by Steve Mkweza. The wing-back curled an effort superbly landing onto the head of Mkonda who stabbed it home beating Blessings Kameza who was manning the goal.

Sanudi was in the thick of action again after 31 minutes when he lifted the ball to Yamikani Chester who was on edge of the box and his curling effort went straight into the palms of Kameza.

KADZONGOLO, DAUDI BRILLIANT BUT CANNOT SAVE MAFCO

The two midfielders, Auspicious Kadzongolo and David Daudi who departed Nyasa Big Bullets Reserve after failing to catch Kalisto Pasuwa’s eyes earlier this season has been the pillars for the Salima based Soldiers this season.

They managed to Silence Chimwemwe Idana last weekend at Dedza Stadium in a game that Mafco beat Bullets but stopping Wanderers who are not relying on the brilliance of one maestro.

The two players again, were deployed as the guards and linkers in the midfield and they executing their duty brilliantly, and the goals that Mighty Mukuru Wanderers scored cannot be attributed to neither error nor mistakes of the players.

They stepped up in the second half with a grand game, trimming Wanderers to play in their own half but Mapira denied Mbulu, Philimon and Co to find the roof of the net.

WHAT DOES MEAN? This means that Mighty Mukuru Wanderers are one leg in the semifinals of the season 5 of the Airtel Top 8 Cup after managing to keep a clean sheet at home.

The two teams will again face off in the return leg at Chitowe Stadium in 14 days coming and Mafco will need to score three goals with Mighty Wanderers scoring none.

The Salima based Soldiers will now wait to record their first cup game win over the Lari Luban based team after suffering their fifth defeat in 12 years.

Mighty Mukuru Wanderers booted out Mafco FC from the Presidential Cup in 2011 after a 1-0 victory before registering another victory in the post-match penalties.

Nomads narrowly beat Mafco by a goal to nill that was scored by Bongan Kaipa in the Carlsberg Cup in 2017 before another victory in 2021, FDH Bank Cup.

With their last additio of silverware dated back to 2018, Mighty Mukuru Wanderers are eager to win this Cup that I’d being defended by Bullets who beat Silver Strikers in the final game played at Kamuzu Stadium on December 18 last season.

WHAT NEXT? Both teams return to the Super League actions as Wanderers welcome Moyale Barracks while Mafco will face Karonga United at Chitowe Stadium this Wednesday.

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