Civo Service United were on Sunday afternoon crowned Malawi Standard Bank Knockout Cup champions when they beat cup specialists Mighty Wanderers 1-0 at Civo Stadium.Having failed to win in 2009 and 2010, the civil servants made no mistake this time around as they put the Nomads to the sword with some few minutes to play.
The goal came late in the second-half through a Nelson Kangunje tap in from a well taken free kick to hand the Nomads their first cup final defeat in seven outings.
The Nomads started the first half in fine fashion after Isaac Kaliyati’s pin point ball deliveries put the servants on the back foot immediately.
Kaliyati was at it again, crossing the ball from the right flank of the field only to see Jabulani Linje missing the goal mouth with an inch.
Civo’s defense was under siege as Linje, Kaliyati, Muhamad Sulumba and Kondwani Kumwenda pressed harder in search for their opener. It took more than 15 minutes for the hosts to have their first shot at Nomads goal which was well saved by Richard Chipuwa.
Raphael Phiri combined well with Dan Nsimuko but the latter fired wide from the close range. Minutes later, Sulumba almost gave his team a lead but he was denied by the first assistant referee who raised his flag for offside.
The Nomads had several chances through free kicks but Kaliyati twice fired straight at Duncan Mkandawire in goals for the servants.
Civo’s defense, which was being led by Emmanuel Zoya, John Lanjesi, Wyson Nkhana and Blessing Kawanga slowly settled down as the Nomads were now finding it difficult to penetrate as it was the case in the opening minutes no wonder the first half ended goalless.
After recess, Linje once again threatened Civo’s defense following a cross from Stanley Sanudi but the forward’s header was brilliantly cleared on the line by Zoya.
The hosts were panicking as the Nomads launched a hurricane counter attacking football but their front line lacked the cutting edge in the final phase of the match.
Victor Nyirenda was then introduced to try and score the much needed goal but once again, the servant’s defense was absolutely fantastic and difficult to crack down.
At the other end, Kangunje released Isaac Msiska to the right flank of the field but the winger misplaced the pass when he was about to pull the trigger.
The Nomads were unlucky to find the winning goal as Nyirenda’s thumping header was again cleared on the line by Zoya.
The Nomads tried to find their feet throughout the rest of the encounter but the servant’s defense proved too difficult to unlock.
With five minutes to go, everybody in the stadium thought the game was heading towards penalties but Kangunje had other plans for the Lali Lubani boys as his tap in was enough to beat Chipuwa into the bottom corner, 1-0.
The goal brought joy to the servants but the Nomads fans were in total disbelief and when referee Mabvuto Msimuko blew his final whistle, the servants carried the day in style.
Speaking to the media, Civo coach Oscar Kaunda thanked heavens for the victory whilst his opposite number Eliya Kananji conceided defeat and congratulated the servants for winning the cup.
The defeat is the first for the Nomads in seven cup finals.
On the other part, Civo’s victory is the first having failed to win the cup in two attempts. The servants were given a trophy and a cheque worthy K10 million.
Before the match, Wanderers were targeting another cup success, having won the 2015 Carlsberg Cup at the same venue after beating sworn rivals Big Bullets 2-1.