By Antony Isaiah Jr:………..
The 2020 TNM Super League has come to an end today on Saturday. Nyasa Big Bullets are the Champions of the league while Blue Eagles have finished second with Rumphi, TN Stars and Sable Farming relegated to the lower regional Leagues.
Nyasa Big Bullets and Mighty Mukuru Wanderers have finished their season in fine spirit as they beat Dedza Dynamos and Red Lions respectively while Mafco and Blue Eagles walked away from Nankhaka ground with a point each.
While knowing that the league was already in their custody, Kalisto Pasuwa had to name a strong line up as he was looking to finish the season in high spirit. Patrick Mwaungulu, Gomezgani Chirwa, Frank Willard, Ernest Petro who missed the previous game [Against Karonga] were given the starting role while Precious Sambani, Chimwemwe Idana were on the bench.
Surprisingly, Dan Dzimkambani, Coach for Dedza Dynamos left Promise Kamwendo, Mathews Zaulombo on the bench for Henry Sanudi and Ibrahim Swadick.
The people’s team started the game on front foot as they were hunting for an early lead but Dedza’s goalkeeper, Donnex Mwakasinga had to deny them.
The towering goalkeeper twice had reflex saves to frustrate the crowd that filled the Ndirande stand who came to witness their team lifting their 16th League title.
Questions could rage on fans to say why did they at first allowed Frank Willard fo leave the team earlier this season before coming back during the break.
The defending midfielder, Willard was the difference between the two sides. He could drop between the two Centre-backs [John Lanjesi and Nixon Nyasulu] to collect the ball. This allowed the two Centre-backs to occupy the spaces of fullbacks and hence Gomezgani Chirwa and Erik Kaonga were pushed into the offensive zone adding numbers.
Babatunde nearly grabbed the opener from 12 yard in the opening stages of the game. The Nigerian dropped off the left to receive the long ball from Erik Kaonga and he controlled it into the path of Nkhoma. The left forward played a through to Baba who saw his effort being palmed away by Mwakasinga.
Again, Mwakasinga was called into action to deny Gomezgani Chirwa from hitting the roof of the net. The overlapping full-back dropped into the central midfield, combining with Patrick Mwaungulu before firing a heavy shot that Donnex brilliantly saved away.
Dedza broke through the right flank where Swadick Sanudi was operating but he could not be allowed to cross the ball into the penalty area as Kaonga blocked it for a corner that was cleared away by Rabson Richard.
Patrick had his free-kick hitting the human-wall before Babatunde Adepoju opened the scores at exactly half-hour mark. Ernest Petro, Lanjesi Nkhoma, Thompson Magombo, Nickson Nyasulu were all involved in the build up of the play. The Nigerian towering striker beat the offside trap set by Dedza Dynamos and he just chipped the ball over Mwakasinga’s head to make it 1-0 for the people’s team and it was his 18th goal of the season.
He nearly extended his tally but again to the rescue was goalkeeper, Mwakasinga. Frank Willard spotted the striker on the move and he just placed the on to his path and the striker connected with a hammer shot that Mwakasinga palmed away.
Former Mighty Mukuru Wanderers midfielder, Swadick levelled the scores 4 minutes before the break. Dedza Dynamos attacked through the right flank where they noted the weakness of Bullets and Kaonga defended it for a corner. Swadick swinged in the corner that ceased its fire in the net, beating Rabson Chiyenda in goals.
Promise Kamwendo and Victor Lungu were introduced for the scorer, Ibrahim Swadick and injured Charles Chipala.
Dedza Dynamos were a different team after the recess as they were pressing Nyasa Big Bullets in their won half.
Against the run of play, Limbani Phiri arrived at the scene in time to deny Babatunde who was very hungry for the goals to nod home the ball. Gomezgani Chirwa collected the ball from Lanjesi and burst forward before releasing Patrick Mwaungulu on his right- the midfielder lifted the ball to the Nigerian towering striker but he was too late to nod it home with goalkeeper already on the turf as Phiri dispossessed him off the ball.
The hosts won the free-kick 30 metres away Mwakasinga’s area and Mwaungulu lifted it targeting Babatunde who eventually collided with goalkeeper and he had to be taken out for Hassa Kajoke.
Before Kajoke came in, Kalisto Pasuwa’s boys had a penalty after Dedza Dynamos defenders committed a foul on slippery Lanjesi Nkhoma in the penalty area. With Baba already out, he had to come in just to take it but he saw his heavy shot hitting the cross-bar and he was later replaced by Kajoke.
Chimwemwe Idana and Precious Sambani also replaced Thompson Magombo and Erik Kaonga as Pasuwa was trying to up the intensity of the game.
The 2021 Super League golden boot winner has his name on the scoresheet just minutes after his introduction. Lanjesi Nkhoma was brought down on the edge of the penalty area and Mwaungulu just spotted Kajoke who brilliantly headed it home to make it 2-1.
Both Patrick Mwaungulu and Hassan Kajoke had their shots missing the right corner with inches as they were eager to find the another goal.
The people’s team have become the first team to win the league with 73 points beating their won record that they set in 2019 when they won it with 71 points.
From 30 games, they have 22 games, drawing 7 and only Mafco managed to beat them denying them from having an invisible season and it is a result that Bullets’ midfielder, Chimwemwe Idana described it a painful defeat.
“If I reflect on the game against Mafco where we lost 1-0, its very painful, we wanted to have an unbeaten record but it happens in football, ” said Idana when speaking to Timveni Sports.
Elsewhere, Felix Zulu’s lovely strike was enough for Mighty Mukuru Wanderers to finish the season with a win at Balaka Stadium after beating Red Lions.
Wanderers gave finished the season on number 4 with 56 points. They won 16 games, drawing 8 and losing 6. On the other hand, Red Lions have finished the season with 29 points on number 13.
At Nankhaka, Mafco have missed the chance to dislodge Silver Strikers from the fifth position as they played a 1-all stalemate against Blue Eagles.
Former Baroka forward, Richard Mbulu opened the scores for Mafco before Gaddie Chirwa cancelled it.
Eagles have finished the season with 63 points on number 2, 10 points below the Champions while Mafco have wrapped up the season with 50 points on number 6.