By Mabvuto Kambuwe:
Blue Eagles were crowned champions of Bingu Ikhome Bonanza after beating Be Forward Wanderers 4-3 on post-match penalties at Bingu National Stadium Sunday.
The two teams played out to a 1-1 draw in regulation time, forcing the game into penalty shoot-outs.
Eagles’ goalkeeper John Soko saved Bongani Kayipa’s decisive penalty after Onesmor Mbendera scored his spot kick in sudden death for the policemen to claim a K5 million bounty.
The cops converted their spot kicks through Schumacher Kuwali, Mbendera, Vitumbiko Kumwenda and Kingsley Kuwali but Maxwell Salambula and Gilbert Chirwa saw theirs saved by Richard Chipuwa.
Wanderers converted through Lucky Malata, Alfred Mayonzo Jnr and Francis Mlimbika with Babatunde Adepoju and Kayipa having their penalties saved by Soko whereas Francis Mkonda smashed the crossbar.
Wanderers got K2.5 million for coming second in the two-day bonanza.
Silver Strikers, who defeated Nyasa Big Bullets 2-1 in the third-place play-off, pocketed K1.5 million whereas Bullets received K1 million.
Kuwali was named Player-of-the-Tournament and also finished as the top goal scorer with two goals whereas Soko won the Goalkeeper-of-the-Tournament accolade.
The final was entertaining and exciting as both teams displayed good football.
Eagles took the lead 12 minutes into the game through Kuwali after Wanderers’ defence exposed Chipuwa.
But the Nomads fought back and grabbed the equaliser through Mkonda, who headed in an Isaac Kaliati corner kick.
Both teams created chances but were not clinical in front of goal. Kuwali could have won the game for Eagles but saw his shot cleared off the line by Malata with Chipuwa already beaten.
Sensing danger, Wanderers brought in Francisco Madinga for Misheck Botomani. Madinga made an instant impact when he set up Felix Zulu who blasted over the bar.
In the final stages of the game, Soko made two great saves to deny Mkonda and Zulu in quick succession.
In the third place play-off, Silver came from behind after Bullets’ Nelson Kangunje opened the scores with Khuda Muyaba levelling just before the break.
But Duncan Nyoni took advantage of Owen Chaima’s blunder to win the match in stoppage time.
After the final, Eagles assistant Coach Wilson Chidati said it was a balanced affair.
“It could have gone either way but the players played according to instructions. It was unfortunate that we conceded the equaliser,” Chidati said.
Wanderers assistant Coach, Oscar Kaunda, said luck was not on their side.
“We played good football and the players did a good job. But penalties are lotteries, so we should not blame the players,” Kaunda said.
Wanderers—Chipuwa, Machira, Mlimbika, Malata, Nyirenda, Mkonda, Kaliati, Zulu, Manyozo, Babatunde, Botomani.
Eagles—Soko, Chigawa, Mbendera, Jelemani, Robert, Nachipo, Chirwa, Kumwenda, Kuwali, Biton, Salambula.