BY PETER KANJERE:
Stuart Mbunge’s injury-time penalty handed Blue Eagles their first-ever Airtel Top 8 trophy after defeating Nyasa Big Bullets 1-0 in a final that was marred by skirmishes at a packed Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe Sunday.
Referee Mischeck Juwa awarded Eagles the penalty after a Bullets defender had fouled winger Gilbert Chirwa in the box.
Mbunge stepped forward to send the wrong way Bullets goalkeeper Ernest Kakhobwe, who had replaced Rabson Chiyenda, as the visitors anticipated that the game would go into post-match penalties.
After the final whistle, Eagles players celebrated by parading on the pitch while on the other side of the pitch, Bullets’ fans threw bottles to spark nasty scenes as the police struggled to bring order.
Eagles had the lion’s share of possession in the first-half, they defended, attacked and passed the ball well but their fluency in the attacking third was not good enough.
In one fluid moment, Eagles Captain Micium Mhone made a run, passed the ball wide to the left-wing for Chirwa who sent a week shot into the palms of Chiyenda.
Bullets had some scoring chances but Chiukepo Msowoya and his strike partner Bright Munthali could not find their range in the box.
Veteran Fischer Kondowe, who had a quiet game by his standards, nearly scored for Bullets when he arrived at the far post but his low volley was deflected out.
Munthali also played the ball behind Eagles defence but Msowoya’s shot was blocked by Eagles keeper John Soko.
Bullets continued to dictate proceedings in the second-half but Msowoya missed a potential bicycle kick in the penalty box. Msowoya then met Kondowe’s resultant corner-kick but he glanced wide.
Eagles counterattacked and were rewarded for their hard-work.
The last time the two teams met in a cup final was in 1995 when Eagles also prevailed 2-0 over Bullets to win the Chibuku Cup. Eagles last won silverware in 2013 when they lifted the Carlsberg Cup.
Starting line ups:
Eagles: Soko, Steve Chagoma, Osward Maonga, Wonder Jeremani, Alexander Chigawa, Gregory Nachipo, Chirwa, Vitumbiko Kumwenda, Mhone, John Malidadi junior, Maxwell Salambula
Bullets: Chiyenda (Kakhobwe), Miracle Gabeya, Bas h ir Maunde, Henry Kabichi, Righteous Banda, Chimango Kayira, Yamikani Fodya , Mike Mkwate, Kondowe, Munthali, Msowoya.
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