Kajoke (L) celebrating his goal
Those in white and red left Bingu National Stadium on Saturday in jubilant mood, so savage was the beating Mighty Wanderers took from their cross-town rivals Nyasa Big Bullets in the semifinals of FHD Bank Cup after they were hammered 4-0 to exit the most prestigious competition in Malawi’s football calendar.
The People’s Team were coming from back to back defeats to Simba SC in the CAF Champions League and were desperate to bounce back, something which they did in style by humiliating their cross-town rivals.
On the other hand, Wanderers were coming from last week’s 1-0 hard-fought victory over Silver Strikers in the TNM Super League played at Kamuzu Stadium.
Kalisto Pasuwa made several changes to the side that lost to Simba in the return leg by only maintaining Anthony Mfune, Gomezgani Chirwa, John Lanjesi, Precious Sambani, Hassan Kajoke and Ernest Petro whilst Richard Chimbamba replaced Clever Mkungula in goal, with Chimwemwe Idana, Kesten Simbi and Frank Willard all returning to the first eleven.
Wanderers dominated early proceedings with passing football but they lacked the killer punch to unlock Lanjesi’s led defense which was very organized.
It took almost 12 minutes for one of the two teams to register a shot at goal, with Muhammad Sulumba attempting an audacious long range effort that went wide off Chimbamba’s goal month.
The Nomads had another opportunity in the 15th minute when referee Godfrey Nkhakananga awarded them a freekick close to the penalty box but Isaac Kaliyati blasted his effort over the crossbar.
At the other end, Bullets created their first realistic goal scoring opportunity when Chirwa decided to take things into his own hands only to pass the ball to Kajoke who was offside and his shot, which was initially saved by Richard Chipuwa, wouldn’t have had any impact as the striker was in an offside position.
But Bullets were able to find the opening goal on 24th minute through Chirwa.
A through ball pass from the midfield to Mfune saw the forward making a brilliant run to the right before sending an inviting pass to Chirwa who was calm before slotting the ball past the defenseless Chipuwa, 1-0.
This goal was all what Bullets needed and they took the game to their opponents who were now struggling to deal with the fast wingers who were pressing from all cylinders.
Sulumba should have had an equalizer in the 28th minute when he spotted Chimbamba out of position and the forward produced an ambitious shot which missed the upright with an inch.
The hosts were organized in every department and they really learnt their lessons from the 3-3 draw in which Wanderers scored all their goals through set pieces.
Lanjesi was on top of his game so too with Simbi and the two wingbacks who were attacking and at the same time, defending with caution to avoid creating a vacuum at the back.
Forty minutes into the match, Idana should have doubled Bullets’ lead when he created a space on the edge of the box only to lose possession to Stanley Sanudi when shooting was the best option.
The Nomads should have leveled on the dot of half time when Simbi failed to clear a long ball from Chipuwa, allowing Sulumba to win the ball only to send his effort over the crossbar and that was all for the half.
After the recess, Mfune was the first to register a shot at goal when he got the better of Joseph Balakasi only to be denied by Chipuwa who conceded a corner which was wasted for a goalkick.
However, the hosts were able to double their lead in the 49th minute through Kajoke who was fouled by Adeleke Kolawole in the penalty box to win a penalty from which he stepped up and scored the second goal, 2-0.
The Nomads were under siege and they should have conceded again in the 57th minute when Mwaungulu made a run to the right before sending a low cross pass to Mfune who made the first time connection only to be denied by Chipuwa who was the busiest of the two goalkeepers.
At 60 minutes, Alex Ngwira introduced Vitumbiko Kumwenda, Chiukepo Msowoya, Wisdom Mpinganjira and Vincent Nyangulu for Sulumba, Balakasi, Zulu and Misheck Botomani to try to get something out of the game.
But Bullets put the game beyond Wanderers’ reach when an error from a backpass to Chipuwa was won by Chirwa who rounded off the shot-stopper before passing the ball to Mfune who connected well into the net, 3-0.
Bullets suffered an injury in the 72nd minute to Lanjesi who was replaced by Nickson Nyasulu.
Kajoke almost doubled his tally in the 74th minute when he excellently found himself in the attacking zone to shoot at goal only to be denied by the post but the second assistant referee’ flag was already up for an offside call.
Mgwira introduced Robin Ngalande for Kaliyati whilst Babatunde Adepoju replaced Mfune in the 75th minute and 80th minute respectively.
Wanderers had an opportunity to reduce the arrears in the 85th minute when Mpinganjira set Nyangulu on goal but Chirwa was very alert as he intercepted the ball for a corner kick which was easily defended by Sambani.
In the 88th minute, Kajoke excellently curved his shot over Gabeya and Chipuwa only to see the ball hitting the upright, denying Bullets an opportunity to add their fourth goal.
But The People’s Team eventually scored their fourth goal through Babatunde’ clinical finish after he was found in the penalty box by Mwaungulu.
The win will see Bullets playing their Reserve Team on 8th October, 2022 at Kamuzu Stadium in what is likely to be called a ‘friendly affair’.