Nyasa Big Bullets and Be Forward Wanderers will meet in the 2017 Carlsberg Cup final after the former defeated Red Lions 2-1 in an entertaining clash played at Bingu National Stadium on Sunday afternoon to set up a repeat of the 2016 final which the Nomads won 2-1 at Civo Stadium.
Just a week after beating the Soldiers 1-0 in a Super League match, Bullets made no mistake as they produced a stunning second half performance to come from behind and win the match as the Zomba based side failed to hold on to their first half lead.
Bullets dominated the first ten minutes of the first half but failed to score a goal from the three corners they won in the process, allowing their opponents to settle down very quickly as they dominated in the middle of the park where Chikoti Chirwa and Loti Chawinga were operating.
Ernest Kakhobwe had to keep Bullets into the game when he produced a fantastic save from Chawinga’s thunderbolt from outside the penalty box.
Moments later, Kakhobwe was called into action again when he made another save to deny Boniface Kaulesi from putting the ball into the back of the net.
The Soldiers kept on knocking until on the 28th minute when their hardworking spirit finally paid off.
Bullets defence was caught napping in the line of duty when Kaulesi, Chirwa and Steve Ziba exchanged passes to release Chawinga who made no mistake by slotting the ball past Kakhobwe to silence the red side of the town, 1-0.
The goal was a wake-up call to Bullets who upped their rhythm in attack in search for the equalizer before the recess but Jacob Kaunda in goals for the hosts was very outstanding as he made a double save to deny Mussa Manyenje and Chiukepo Msowoya from scoring.
Moments later, Manyenje missed his closest chance of the day when he failed to tap in from the close range after being set through by Msowoya just minutes before the interval and the first half ended in favour of the Soldiers.
Come second half, Red Lions opted to sit back in defence to defend their slender lead, a decision which backfired as they invited Bullets to attack from all cylinders no wonder 9 minutes into the half, the match was level.
Defender Saopa Mpotalinga was judged to have handled the ball inside the penalty box by referee Chidziwitso Simbi, a decision which did not go well with the hosts who protested but to no avail as Simbi stood firm by his decision.
Nelson Kangunje stepped in to slot past Kaunda to put the match on level terms.
Bullets then brought in Dave Banda for Kangunje while Mathews Simbeye came in for the Zomba Soldiers.
Bullets kept on attacking in search for the winning goal but Red Lions defence was too stubborn to unlock, with Benesi Kaisi standing like a solid rock at the back.
Bullets’ Mike Mkwate was stretchered off following a bad tackle from Ziba and he was replaced by Henry Kabichi.
Just when the home team thought the match was edging towards penalties, Msowoya doubled his side’s lead in a spectacular fashion.
Ziba gave away possession inside his own half to Fischer Kondowe who released Msowoya to smash the ball with anger into the back of the net to arouse the visiting red army, 2-1.
Bullets were everywhere and almost scored their third goal of the day when Manyenje failed to connect well a cross from Kondowe and after 90 minutes of play, it ended 2-1 in favour of the two time Carlsberg Cup champions.
The result sees Bullets facing Wanderers for the fifth time in the cup’ history.
The Nomads, who are the defending champions, won 3-2 over Moyale Barracks on penalties to reach the final for the second time in a row.
The finals of the cup will be played on 9th September at a venue yet to be announced by Football Association of Malawi (FAM).