Second half brace from Raphael Phiri handed Civo Service United a 2-1 victory over Malawi champs Big Bullets in the semi-final of the 2015 Standard Bank Knockout Cup at Kamuzu Stadium on Thursday afternoon.
Before the match, Bullets players only trained for few days and had threatened to deliberately lose matches if some of the team’s supporters committee executive members were not removed following massive gate fraud during their match against Mighty Wanderers a fort night ago.
Without Bashir Maunde, Sankhani Mkandawire and James Chilapondwa, the home team struggled from the word go as Civo United controlled the midfield.
The visitors were well composed, giving the home team no chance but they were unfortunate to conceide in the 18th minute from a corner which was scored by Chiukepo Msowoya.
Civo won more free kicks just close to Bullets’s goal area but Emmanue Zoya and Isaac Msiska kept on misfiring to the disbelief of their mentor Oscar Kaunda.
At the other end, Henry Kabichi combined well with Pilirani Zonda to release Dalitso Sailesi who shot wide from the close range.
Civo were forced to make a first half substitute due to Charles Chilembo’s injury, who was replaced by Thoko Harrison and Bullets brought in Eneya Banda for Kabichi just after the interval.
Four minutes into the second half, Civo leveled the scoreline.
A free kick from the left flank of the field found Phiri unmarked to head past defenseless Chimwemwe Kumkwawa in goals for the home team, 1-1.
The visitors doubled their lead just some minutes later through the first scorer.
A long ball from John Lanjesi found Phiri who brilliantly dodged Zonda and tussled into Bullets’s goal mouth before volleying past Kumkwawa to send the visiting fans into a massive celebrations.
Fischer Kondowe and Diverson Mlozi all came in for the home side but failed to make an impact as Civo’s defense was too strong throughout the match.
Bullets were no match to Civo’s brilliant display of football as Nelson Kangunje, Harrison and Phiri continued to press harder in search for more goals but they were denied twice in a row by Kumkwawa.
Civo were awarded a free kick just close to the penalty box when Bullets’s shot-stopper was judged to have left his area and handled the ball outside the penalty box but Zoya fired straight at Kumkwawa from the resultant set piece.
At the other end, Jafali Chande’s penalty shout was turned down by referee Dennis Ngulube who took it as a dive and some few minutes later after the incident, Msowoya was booked for the same office inside the penalty box.
Phiri could have sealed the game with some few minutes to play when he was set free by Kangunje only to see his double shots well saved by Kumkwawa.
With less than five minutes to go, Patience Kalumo was brought in for the Civil servants to try and defend their lead and it all worked out as referee blew his final whistle to mark the end of the match, leaving all Bullets fans in total disbelief.
Bullets technical director Billy Tewesa conceded defeat saying his players were below par. Civo coach Oscar Kaunda thanked heaven for the victory and praised his players for their brilliant display of football.
The result sees Civo Service United becoming the first team to hand Bullets their first home defeat at home since 2013 in all competitions.
The peoples team has to wait for at least another season for them to win the Standard Bank Cup, the only trophy not to be in their trophy cabinet.
Civo will now wait for the winner between Mighty Wanderers and Blue Eagles.
The two sides will battle it out for the final slot on Saturday at Civo Stadium.