Big Bullets against odds
DESPITE a stampede that killed eight people hours before the friendly game, the government went on to stage a ceremonial match involving Nyasa Big Bullets and Silver Strikers at a packed Bingu National Stadium (BNS) in Lilongwe yesterday.
Seven children and an adult died as they scrambled to enter the stadium in the morning. At least 42 people were injured and rushed to Kamuzu Central Hospital. Following the stampede, there were mixed reactions on whether to cancel the game.
On the pitch, Bullets found their scoring boots as they claimed a 2-1 victory over Silver Strikers in the match marking 53 years of independence. Minister of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development, Henry Mussa, and other high profile officials watched the match.
But President Peter Mutharika did not watch the game as planned. Silver goalkeeper Blessings Kameza aided into the net MacFarlane Mgwira’s banana corner kick after 19 minutes amid some confusion in the penalty box.
But Kameza saved a Chiukepo Msowoya penalty after Mlozi was fouled in a controversial circumstance. Mlozi’s diving header sealed the victory for Bullets with 20 minutes to full time.
But Mathews Sibale grabbed Silver’s consolation to set up a tense finish. Silver fought hard for an equaliser which never came. It was a balanced game with both teams displaying entertaining football. The two teams observed one minute of silence in honour of the BNS disaster victims.
Despite a numerical disadvantage following the sending off of Nigerian defender Yunus Sherrif towards the end of the first half, Silver contained Bullets for the better part of the game. In a post-match reaction, Bullets interim Coach, Elijah Kananji, said he was pleased with the performance of his side.
“It was a good performance from the players. The commitment of the players was fantastic and I hope the fans enjoyed the game,” Kananji said.
However, Silver Head Coach, Lovemore Fazili, had no kind words for referee Patrick Ngoleka for awarding Bullets what he called a soft penalty. “It was a friendly game and the referee should have handled the game in a professional way. He was too harsh in his decisions,” Fazili said.
A vibrant writer who gives a great insight on hot topics and issues