Saidi Mtekama scored Mafco’s only goal with ten minutes to play to send his team into the last four of the 2016 Carlsberg Cup at the expense of Big Bullets FC at Civo Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Mafco FC avenged the 8-7 defeat to Bullets last year in the same cup when they displayed brilliant football in the entire minutes.
The match, which was shifted to Civo Stadium from Chitowe due to the fracas that erupted between the two sides, saw more of Mafco than the visitors who were playing without intent.
The Soldiers wasted no time by creating their first chance of the game through Joseph Dossa who made a brilliant run down the left flank only to fire straight at Ernest Kakhobwe in goals for the visitors.
From there, Bullets quickly settled in the midfield where Henry Kabichi and Kondwani Kumwenda exchanged passes to release Chiukepo Msowoya but the former Escom United and Orlando Pirates forward could only stab the ball agonisingly wide as he struggled to keep his balance on the turn.
Mafco were in complete control of the match as Yohane Malunga, Paul Phiri and Mtekama made life difficult for visitors who were no match to the Soldiers’ pace.
The hosts almost scored when Benard Harawa made his run to the right flank of the field, releasing Gift Soko who failed to put the ball into the back of the net with Kakhobwe already beaten and it was goalless at half time.
After the recess, Bullets mentor Franco Ndawa introduced Diverson Mlozi and Mike Mkwate for Dalitso Sailesi and Henry Kabichi. This change was a relief to the visitors who started playing with intent as they pressed harder in search for the opener.
Yamikani Fodya’s free kick came off the post when every Bullets fan thought the ball was inside the net.
Bullets were on fire as they switched to a 4-3-3 formation, with Mlozi, Mussa Manyenje, and Msowoya playing as a front three.
However, against the run of play, Mafco should have scored.
A cross from Harawa met Dossa inside the penalty box who headed past Kakhobwe only to be denied by the upright.
With less than ten minutes to go, the Soldiers got their goal.
Harawa provided the assist, as he has for so many of Mafco’s goals this season, beating Chiku Kanyenda before sending a masterclass cross into the drop zone to meet Mtekama who rose above Miracle Gabeya to head the ball past Kakhobwe before kissing the back of the net, 1-0.
Bullets introduced Aimabre Niikiza for Emmanuel Zoya in the last minutes but Mafco defended jealously to march on to the semi-finals where they will face Silver Strikers at the same venue next Saturday.