By Antony Isaiah Jr:…..
Two goals in each half from Patrick Macheso and Levison Maganizo were enough to drag the Central Bankers, Silver Strikers into the semifinals of the Airtel Top-8 Cup season five after beating Kamuzu Barracks 2-0 on Sunday afternoon at Champions Stadium.
Going into the game, a goalless draw would be enough for the hosts as the first leg ended 1-all which according to the rules of the tournament, Kamuzu Barracks would sail through on away-goal rule.
Leo Mpulura’s bold decisions are helping him as since his coming, Nixon Mwase, Flames No 1 goalkeeper, Charles Thom, Stain Davie are no longer regular starters- instead, he paired former Chitipa United defender, Hardy Ng’andu and Maxwell Paipi in the heart of defence while Emmanuel Nyirenda was manning the posts.
Knowing that a goalless draw would not favour them, the Bankers started the game with their guns blazing catching Kamuzu Barracks on counter-attacks, aided by the slippery and speedy attackers that Mpulura entrusted to start the game.
Silver Strikers hit the roof of the net just three minutes from the first whistle through Dwangwa United midfielder, Patrick Macheso.
It a long ball from Silver’s half and Chawanangwa Kaonga headed it to Rodwell Robert who outsmarted Herbert Wayekha and set Macheso who hit a powerful drive into the roof of the net from 16 yards.
Patrick Macheso, Zebron Kalima and Chawanangwa Kaonga combined on the left flank before setting Rodwell Robert who blazed wide.
Silver Strikers’ solid defence kept Kamuzu Barracks’ Strikers blunt. As of 35 minutes, the hosts had two corner-kicks but they couldn’t utilise them as the towering defender, Hardy Ng’andu cleared Gilbert Nkhokwe’s shot that resulted from Chisambi’s delivery.
Assistant coach for Kamuzu Baracks, Blessings Kawanga made three changes before the break as he was trying to balance the game and resurrect the players to level the scores.
Gregory Nachipo, Sammy Chiponda and Emmanuel Mitole were all thrown in for Christopher Mtambo, Jumah Yatina and injured Martias nyirenda.
In the second half, Rodwell Robert and Zebron Kalima paved way for Stain Davie and Prince Phiri for Silver Strikers.
Levison Maganizo came off the bench in the 90th minute to brush away KB’s hope of levelling the scores as he netted the second goal for the Bankers.
Chawanangwa Kaonga spined on the right flank he teed up the former Sure Stream Academy midfielder on the edge of the box and the midfielder placed the ball to the near post beyond Leman Nthala’s reach.
Coach for Silver Strikers, Leo Mpulura said his players showed character.
“We didn’t play mostly to our tune, but we very managed to score goals. The players showed character and that’s why we managed to defend though they [Kamuzu Barracks] were playing long balls. We did not have a good season and this is the only trophy that we are targeting, ” said Mpulura.
On his part, Blessings Kawanga, Second assistant coach for Kamuzu Baracks said an early goal that Silver found disturbed their game plan.
“We are out, we just have to accept that we didn’t play well. It was a good game, we conceded an early goal that demoralized our players. We tried our best, it was not our day. We gave them room to play how they planned,” said Kawanga.
In four meetings between the two sides, Silver Strikers have managed to win three and drawing one. They won 3-0 at Silver Stadium before completing a double over the Soldiers after 2-1 victory at Kasungu Stadium in league games.
Silver Strikers have ended Kamuzu Barracks’ unbeaten run at Champions Stadium where they have been enjoying good results since they switched their home base from Civo Stadium in the second round of the tnm Super League. They were unbeaten in 7 home games.
Bankers to face Bullets in Semifinals
A 3-1 win on aggregate over Kamuzu Barracks for Bankers, the trip to Blantyre calls. They will face the defending Champions, Nyasa Big Bullets in a game deemed to be the time for the Bankers to stage a revenge.
The people’s team beat Silver Strikers 5-4 on penalties in the final game of the 2021 Airtel Top-8 Cup after a 1-all stalemate in regulation time. Stain Davie had put Silver Strikers ahead before Lanjesi Nkhoma cancelled it.
Bullets hammered Karonga United 8-1 on aggregate to reach the semifinals.
The two-time Champions, Silver Strikers have reached the semifinal stage of the tournament for the fifth time in row.