Karonga United earned their maiden Airtel top 8 semifinal after knocking out TN Stars on away goal rule following a 0-0 draw at the Karonga Stadium on Saturday.
The semifinal berth was achieved after the two sides played out a 1-1 draw in the first leg in Kasungu and now Karonga will wait for the winners of a quarterfinal game between Mzuni and Civo Sporting Club.
The match played in front of a partisan home crowd saw the crocodiles of Karonga do enough in the 90 minutes to make it through to the semis.
In a first half which lacked clear goal scoring opportunities, the home side dominated possession with Gule Mwaisope and Anthony Mfune having Karonga United’s two goal scoring opportunities.
Lawrence Banda had the Kasungu based sides’ only chance in the first half with his left footed shot going narrowly wide past Karonga’s young goal custodian Anthony Singini.
In the second half, the game began on the same note with both sides weary to attack each other with a semifinal berth up for grabs.
Mindful of needing an away goal to come back in the tie, TN brought on striker Tonex Viyuyu and Trouble Banda in the hunt for a goal.
In a frantic last 15 minutes, Stern Dave and Trouble Banda went close for TN stars while Anthony Mfune also missed a sitter as space opened up for Karonga United after the away side left space in the back as they pushed men upfield.
Speaking in a post-match interview, Karonga United team manager Kondwani Mwalweni hailed his sides’ achievement for reaching the semis.
“We played a good game and we should have won the match on the day if we took our chances but in the end the chances we missed didn’t matter as we went through to our first major semifinal,” he said.
TN stars assistant coach Monki Chilwa conceded that they left themselves with too much to do in the second leg after performing badly at home in the first leg.
“Ultimately we have paid the price for our below par performance at home, we played alright today but we failed to score so we have to congratulate Karonga for booking a semifinal place,” said a frustrated Chilwa.