Mighty Mukuru Wanderers suffered their first defeat of the TNM Super League when they were beaten by Chitipa United at Kamuzu Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The game was premise on rather strange circumstances as Wanderers requested to have referee Gift Chicco, who was expected to take charge of the match replaced, claiming that he deliberately messed up the Blantyre Derby that ended 1-1 in the 2020/21 season.
Alfred Kaphamtengo was then called in to officiate the match.
Nonetheless, the visitors were determined not to let the decision, which they heavily protested, deter them as they took the game to the Nomads.
Mark Harrison’ charges, who were one of the three teams yet to test a defeat season, had an opportunity to go top of the standings as current log leaders, FCB Nyasa Big Bullets will play Red Lions on Sunday.
But the rookies, who got promoted to the top flight league at the end of last season from Simso Northern Region Football League, were fearless and made life very difficult for the giants who played the entire 45 minutes without a shot at goal.
The visitors were keen to sit back during the opening minutes, which allowed Wanderers to enjoy the bull of the possession.
However, the Nomads, who have been scoring the majority of their goals through Christopher Kumwembe, who normally gets balls from wingbacks, saw their supply lines cut short by Chris Lwemba, Cassim Juma, and Lamson Lukali.
This forced Wanderers to play inside their own half, and this was witnessed by frequent back passes to goalkeeper William Thole who aroused the anger of supporters as every clearance from him ended up outside the field of play.
Wanderers’ realistic chance in the half fell through to Vincent Nyangulu, whose bicycle kick was easily cleared by Lwemba.
At the other end, Ghedo Lorenzo was at the receiving end of Mabuchi Msiska’s pass, but the winger was very slow to respond and allowed Miracle Gabeya to make a timely clearance.
The two teams went to the recess at 0-0.
In the second half, Harrison brought in Mathews Masamba and Chiukepo Msowoya for Isaac Kaliyati and Nyangulu to try to break the resilient side which was defending with everything to frustrate the Lali Lubani boys.
The more Wanderers pressed, the more Chitipa United defended, and they were very good at recoveries whenever they were not in possession of the ball.
Time was ticking very fast for Wanderers who were able to see their chances of moving top of the standings fading by each passing minute.
The situation worsened when Kumwembe was substituted following an injury he sustained earlier in the half, and he was replaced by Mphatso Kamanga.
Harrison also brought in Vitumbiko Kumwenda for Misheck Botomani.
The rookies also made some changes when they introduced Aaron Kayira for Msiska.
According to statistics, Wanderers have been most dangerous between 50 minutes and 80 as they have scored over 40 percent of their goals during that period but they faced a very stubborn side that had no fear and was tactically better.
With 70 minutes played, Lawrence Chaziya lost possession inside his half to Lorenzo, who saw his powerful shot well blocked by Alfred Manyozo Jnr.
With 80 minutes played, frustrations were all over Wanderers team, with every move in search of a goal proving too futile as they faced resilience from the rookies.
In the 82nd minute, Kamuzu Stadium was silenced.
A well taken corner kick by Rajab Nyirenda found Lorenzo unmarked, who then forced Gabeya into scoring an own goal, 0-1.
This goal put Wanderers under pressure and won two back-to-back freekicks but goalkeeper George Chikooka did well to rescue his team from Msowoya, Nyirenda and Wisdom Mpinganjira who was sending dangerous crosses inside the penalty box and in the end, Chitipa United walked away with all the points over the title contenders.
The defeat means the Nomads failed to dislodge Bullets at the top of the summit as they remain second with 14 points, level with the log leaders who have a superior goal difference.
As for MacDonald Mtetemera’s side, the win sees them moving into fifth position with 10 points from seven games, level with Karonga United, who drew 1-1 at Ekwendeni Hammers.
This was the first time in almost a decade for an underdog to beat one of the Blantyre giants.
In 2012, Ishmael Thindwa scored the only goal of the match to inspire Epac FC to a memorable 1-0 victory over Bullets.
Elsewhere, Yohane Malunga and Bernard Chimaimba inspired Mafco FC to their second win of the season to welcome their new coach, Prichard Mwansa, who replaced Stereo Gondwe, in style.
The Mchinji based side had taken a first half lead through Justice Honde, but with ten minutes left to play, they conceded a penalty which Malunga stepped up to level 1-1.
Just as everyone thought the match was heading towards a stalemate, Chimaimba scored in the additional minutes to see Mafco FC moving up into 9th position with 8 points from seven games.
The defeat also leaves Extrme FC into 16th position with 2 points from the same number of games.
The action continues on Sunday with exciting futures across the country.
Bullets have an opportunity to open a three point lead at the top over Wanderers when they host Red Lions at Kamuzu Stadium whilst Silver Strikers will be eager to bounce back from Friday’s disappointing goalless draw at home to Mighty Tigers when they host Bangwe All Stars at Bingu National Stadium.
At Dedza Stadium, Dedza Dynamos will welcome Tigers, Moyale Barracks will play Blue Eagles at Mzuzu Stadium, and Kamuzu Barracks will host Civil Service United at Civo Stadium.
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