Griffin Young Stars’ long wait for their first ever FMB Under 20 national championship ended on Saturday as they lifted the trophy following a resounding 3-0 win over Sanweka.
Paul Phiri, Yesaya Medson and Peter Banda made sure of the success by netting a goal each, in front of an impressive crowd at the Mulanje Park.
The crowd included Board Chairman of the Malawi National Council of Sports James Chuma and the Council’s executive secretary George Jana, Flames coach Ron Van Geneugden, Football Association of Malawi first Vice President James Mwenda and other sports officials.
Griffin’s victory came at the fourth time of asking after being to three national finals, all ending in heartbreak.
This time around the Blantyre based side demonstrated the hunger, anger and tenacity to exorcise their demons and land the crown.
They were not as mesmerising as they were on Friday when they dumped out defending champions Silver Strikers Youth 3-2, as they seemed to have met their match in the Mzuzu outfit which was making its debut at the national stage.
Griffin however exercised some tactical discipline in defence while making use of their chances.
Phiri intelligently lofted the ball over advancing goalkeeper Shingirayi Thole to give Griffin the lead.
National under 17 team starlet Patrick Mwaungulu should have restored parity moments later but he shot straight at Griffin keeper Innocent Mbwenye who saved the effort.
Mbwenye was at it again few minutes later with a double save to deny Felix Dumakude who had a stellar display for an impressive Sanweka side.
Fifteen minutes into second half Medson doubled his side’s lead from close range before national under 20 whizkid Banda, who had a quiet afternoon as compared to Friday’s powerhouse display against Silver, put the result beyond doubt.
Sanweka goalie Thole who was also responsible for the second goal needlessly fumbled the ball. Banda collected the rebound, dribbled past Thole and two defenders before slotting into an open net.
Griffin had Richard Mavutula sent off late on for a malicious tackle plus dissent, but Sanweka failed to capitalise on their numerical advantage as the damage had already been done.
In his post match interview with Malawi24, winning coach Griffin Sayenda hailed his boys for playing to instructions.
“We had a cautious approach in the first half, allowing them to come on us then catch them on the counter. Second half we came flat out on the attack and killed the game off with two goals. Glory to God for the victory because another defeat would have been so devastating,” said Sayenda.
From the losing side technical director Winnie Mbarley applauded his wards despite the disappointment.
“It doesn’t look like a loss for us because the boys played really well. Griffin weren’t at their fluent best as we outclassed them in several areas. But at the end of the day Griffin are more experienced in such situations than our boys, so that made the difference,” said Mbarley.
The K24 million kwacha tournament reached the national stage on Friday with Griffin and Sanweka progressing to the finals at the expense of Silver and host side Mathambi Soccer Saints respectively.
For their victory, the first for a southern region side since 2012, Griffin walked away K1 million kwacha richer while Sanweka pocketed K600,000.