It was a David versus Goliath affair between Carlsberg Cup defending Champions Mighty Wanderers and Mangochi Police Eagles at Kamuzu Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Before the showdown, the Nomads were already the favourites but the rookies gave them a tough run for their money in the field of play.
The Nomads started brightly as Peter Wadabwa forced an early save out of George Chauya in the rookies’ goal, and the keeper did well to save at Jimmy Zakazaka’s feet a few minutes later.
Wanderers were playing under pressure as they failed to put the ball into the back of the net despite holding more possession than the visitors.
It took half an hour for the rookies to have their first shot at goal and it came through Daniel Nkhata who was making things happen for the Premier division side in the middle of the park.
With less than 10 minutes to go before recess, Chauya sustained a hip injury when he collided with Wadabwa following a corner kick which was played by Ibrahim Sadick.
However, the rookies started to take the game away from the hosts who were frustrated after failing to kill off the game in the half and it was goalless at half time.
But just when everybody thought the teams were taking a breather, there was drama in the dressing room tunnel when suspected Wanderers supporters poured pork fats at Mangochi Police shot-stopper Chauya before giving him blows in front of officials from the Football Association of Malawi (FAM).
Chauya was substituted as he sustained another injury in the process.
This forced the visitors to play under the protest and they brought in Mussa Katawal for the injured Chauya.
After the recess, the rookies started brightly as they tested Richard Chipuwa twice before missing a sitter just minutes into the half.
Jafali Chande also made his way into the half as the Nomads were racing against time to find the much important goal but the rookies defended jealously to frustrate the home fans.
Wadabwa had a clear chance when the ball fell to him in the box but he yanked his shot wide.
Ishmael Thindwa was then brought in for Zakazaka and this change aroused all Nomads fans as he scored from the first touch minutes after being introduced.
A corner from the right flank of the southern goal post caught the visitors’ defence as they struggled to clear the danger away, allowing Thindwa to slot past Katawal in goals for the rookies.
The goal gave Wanderers more confidence and they pressed harder in search for more goals, with Wadabwa and Thindwa combining well only to see the latter firing wide with the goalkeeper already beaten.
Genk Nakamura came in for the Nomads while Fiesta Dan came in for the visitors.
The Nomads controlled the remainder of the game as they wasted several opportunities but in the end, victory was theirs as they progressed to the final of the cup for the second time in a row and increased their chances of becoming the first ever team to win the cup in a row.
Speaking to the media after the whistle, Nomads Team Manager Steve Madeira hailed his side for playing according to instructions while his opposite number Maxwell Chagona said his boys lost the game simply because of what the Nomads fans did to his goalkeeper who was a marvel to watch before being substituted.
Wanderers will meet the winners of tomorrow’s game between Silver Strikers and Mafco FC at Civo Stadium.