Written by LEONARD SHARA
LILONGWE--Silver Strikers new coach Franco Ndawa got off to a flying start when his side thrashed defending champions Blue Eagles 3-1 in a Standard Bank Cup top 8 first leg encounter played before a large crowd at Silver Stadium in Lilongwe’s Area 47.
It was a well deserved victory for the bankers, who played a beautiful passing game as opposed to the kick and rush type of play they have been known for in their previous encounters.
Flames’ midfielder Frank Banda opened the scores on the dot of half time with a powerful right footer from the 18-yard box after Eagles goalkeeper had failed to deal with a cross from the right flank.
Upon resumption, Eagles coach Deklerk Msakakuona brought in experienced Peter Mgangira for Liston Sabuli and before the former Silver Strikers’ skipper could make his presence known, midfielder Harvey Nkacha headed in the second goal from a Jester Mulima cross.
Rodrick Gonani made it 3-1 in the 76th minute after being put through by substitute Green Harawa, who was making his first touch after coming in for injured Banda.
Innocent Bokosi grabbed a face saver for the cops from area 30 after beating Silver goalkeeper Amadu Ali from the penalty spot. Zomba based referee Denis Ngulube award the penalty on the dot of full time following a handball by a Silver defender.
Ndawa hailed his charges for putting up a spirited performance but pointed out the battle was still on: “I thank the boys for putting up a good fight. We will work extra hard in the return leg to excel to the semi finals,” said Ndawa, who was having his first assignment after replacing Thom Nkorongo as Silver coach.
His counterpart Msakakuona said it would be tough for his side to reverse the situation but pointed out everything was possible.
“It will be difficult for us to reverse the situation but not impossible. If we can prepare thoroughly and work extra hard in the return leg, we can beat them by 2-0 or a larger margin,” said Msakakuona, who was without his suspended three key players Macium Mhone, Patrick Masanjala and Ken Mponda. The teams will meet again in the return leg at Nankhaka Ground in a week’s time.
In other Standard Bank Cup Top 8 clashes, Moyale Barracks played a 1-all draw against Civo at Chitowe Stadum with Big Bullets edging Epac United through a Gabadinho Mhango lone second half strike. Mighty Wanderers also drew 1-all with Escom United.