LILONGWE--Big Bullets FC Saturday won the K60 million Presidential Football Cup after edging determined soldiers Moyale Barracks 1-0 in a an exciting final match played before a mammoth crowd at Civo Stadium in Lilongwe.
Despite Football Association of Malawi (Fam) hiking entry fees for the open stands from K100 to K300 per person, fans came in their large numbers, filling every space available in the stands while others sat in the space between the stands and the wire fence surrounding the pitch.
Going onto the field of play, Bullets made their intention of ending an eight-year cup drought clear from the early moments when their marksman Gabadinho Mhango struck just five minutes into the game.
The striker connected first time a flicked ball by veteran Heston Munthali after a through ball from Douglas Chirambo.
Moyale took over control of the game after the goal but despite their dominance, they did not find a formula to beat Owen Chaima in Bullets’ goals.
On two occasions, Chaima had to overstretch himself to tip the ball over the bar following long range strikes from Timothy Nyirenda and Chrispin Fukizi.
The soldiers from Kaning’ina played a more physical and hard tackling game, such that by the resumption, Bullets had lost their hard working midfielder James ‘Terminator’ Chilapondwa to injury. He was replaced by Yamikani Tambala.
With just a few minutes remaining on the clock, Bullets made a tactical change, pulling out striker Diverson Mlozi, replacing him with defender Sankhani Mkandawire. The tactic worked well for them and they managed to defend their slender lead up to the final whistle.
Coach Eddie Ng’onamo was on cloud nine after the whistle, praising his charges for playing to instructions: “Our strategy was to get an early goal and we did just that and managed to defend our lead. I’m very happy that we have now won a cup after eight years,” said Ng’onamo.
His counterpart Themba Ntontholo said loss of concentration in the opening five minutes cost them the game. He also expressed dissatisfaction with the officiation by Lilongwe based referee Patrick Ngoleka and his assistants, accusing him of unnecessarily penalizing his side.
For winning the cup, Bullets were presented with a K10 million cheque by First Gentleman retired Chief Justice Richard Banda while the soldiers got K5 million. Losing semifinalists Red Lions and Escom United got K500,000 each with four losing quarterfinalists presented with K250,000 each.
Gabadinho was presented with two cheques of K50,000 each as player of the tournament and top goal scorer. He had a total of eight goals in the competition.
---©2012 The Maravi Post. Reproduction without acknowlegment prohited.