By Mphatso Malidad
Nyasa Big Bullets gangling forward Babatunde Adepoju showcased his class and ruthlessness when he returned to haunt his former side Mighty Wanderers hammering four goals to inspire the People’s Team to Airtel Top 8 Cup final.
It was a perfect afternoon for the Blantyre derby and Kamuzu Stadium was fully packed witnessing Bullets thrash their rivals 4-1 yesterday.
Babatunde took his tally in the competition to eight goals in three games to continue dictating the golden boot race having scored two goals each when Bullets defeated Mafco 3-1 and 2-1 in quarterfinal ties.
It was a balanced first half but Wanderers lack of depth in the technical area was exposed after half time when Bullets Coach Kalisto Pasuwa replaced Paul Kansungwi with striker Bright Munthali to change the shape and formation of the team.
Babatunde opened the scoring from the penalty spot in the 24th minute.
Bullets were awarded the penalty after Wanderers skipper Alfred Manyozo handled in the 18-yard box.
Vincent Nyangulu equalised in the 34th minute when he connected home a Ted Sumani corner kick.
The first half ended with both teams searching for another goal.
Babatunde, who swapped the blue jersey for the red one in course of the 2021 season, restored Bullets’ lead in the 52nd minute.
He finished from a rebound after Alick Lungu’s free kick hit the upright.
Babatunde cushioned Bullets’ lead with another header following Lanjesi Nkhoma’s beautiful delivery.
Wanderers responded by introducing Felix Zulu and Wisdom Mpinganjira for Aubrey Maloya and Sumani respectively but the change had no effect as Babatunde nailed the coffin with his last goal for the match in the 77th minute.
The two giants last crashed in this competition in 2018 when they met at similar stage with Bullets winning 2-1 before losing 1-0 in the final to Blue Eagles.
Bullets diehards were on cloud as the People’s Team successfully avenged their second-round Super League defeat.
Wanderers Coach Bob Mpinganjira refused to grant post-match interview but his counterpart, Pasuwa, hailed his players for following his instructions.
“First-class football from my boys. I am proud of my boys. I have never praised my boys like today. They were solid in the way they were keeping the ball away from the opposition,” he said.
Pasuwa also praised Babatunde for settling the tie.
Bullets will now meet either Civil Service United or Silver Strikers who clash in the other semifinal Saturday.
Champions in the cup will get K17 million with the runners-up pocketing K5 million.
Wanderers have concluded the season trophy-less.