Silver Strikers were crowned 2019 Airtel Top 8 champions following a hard fought 1-0 victory over rookies Karonga United on Saturday afternoon at the magnificent Bingu National Stadium.
Khuda Muyaba scored the only goal in the 42nd minute which saw the Central Bankers becoming the most successful team in the competition’s history.
The 2017 winners started the match on a high note, forcing Karonga United’s goalkeeper Happy Msowoya into making crucial saves.
Muyaba could have opened the scoreline just after the quarter hour mark when he made his way into the box only to produce a baby shot which was saved by Msowoya.
Moments later, Muyaba and Duncan Nyoni exchanged passes to release Michael Teteh who was late to arrive on the ball, allowing William Mwalwimba to clear the ball away from his area.
The rookies then started to settle and they almost shocked the Area 47 giants with a goal when Misheck Seleman dribbled past Mike Robert to feed Khumbo Msowoya who saw his drive well saved by Brighton Munthali.
Karonga United were pressing harder in search for the opener but they were very unfortunate as Munthali kept on producing fantastic saves to keep the Bankers into the game.
Just when everybody thought that Karonga were on course of scoring a goal, Muyaba did the damage when he neatly scored past Msowoya, who could have done nothing to stop the ball into hitting the back of the net.
Karonga duly went in search of an immediate reply and had a great chance to level matters in the 44th minute. Seleman’s individual brilliance saw him overcoming Robert before feeding Aziz Mwakifuna but Munthali was at it again by producing another save for a corner.
In the second half, both teams pressed harder, with Silver Strikers creating their first goal scoring opportunity through Teteh who saw his fierce effort fly straight down Msowoya’s throat in the 55th minute.
At the other end of the pitch, Msowoya should have leveled off the scoreline but he failed to hit the target with the goal at his mercy.
Karonga United were lucky not to concede again when Pilirani Thulu cleared Teteh’s ball before crossing the line.
Though the Bankers were in the driving seat, they were living dangerously as Karonga United kept on controlling the tempo through Mwakifuna, Msowoya, Victor Lungu and Gule Mwaluska but they had Munthali to thank for his heroic saves.
The rookies pushed harder in search of the equalizer but the Area 47 side stood firm to collect their second trophy in three seasons.
It was also a day to remember for Muyaba who won the golden boot award for scoring two goals, collecting K0.5 million in the process.
The Bankers collected K15 million in prize money and a trophy.