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Indeed ndi ‘Zamadolo izi’

Wanderers has the last laugh

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THRILLING AFFAIR—Wanderers edged out rivals Bullets

Revenge is the best dish served cold. Indeed, every fairy-tale comes to an end.

The 2022 Airtel Top 8 Cup dubbed Zamadolo izi, is done and dusted.

There is no unprecedented treble for Kalisto Pasuwa and his Nyasa Big Bullets following a 5-3 loss to rivals Mighty Mukuru Wanderers in the 2022 Airtel Top 8 Cup final tie at Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe last Saturday.

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Wanderers wrote their own piece of history having won the Airtel Top 8 Cup for the first time since it was introduced in 2017.

Again, they also ended their three-year trophy drought. Before last Saturday’s cup final, Wanderers had won the Fisd Challenge Cup in 2018.

It was a special moment for the blue side of town to wrestle the trophy from their rivals.

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There is also something special about Wanderers’ triumph in this year’s competition.

The Nomads won the Airtel Top 8 without conceding a goal in regulation time but scored six goals in four matches. Surely, this shows that Wanderers deserved the trophy.

Relief was the prevalent emotion on the part of Wanderers after Vincent Nyangulu calmly converted his decisive spot kick beating Bullets goalkeeper Richard Chimbamba.

Wanderers Coach Mark Harrison dressed in stylish blue jean and white shirt punched the air in commemoration.

Then, later he sprinted towards the western side stands to celebrate the victory with Nomads fans. Probably, the Nomads have found their mojo under new man Harrison.

He might be one of them for now. Some Wanderers players shed tears of joy after their victory.

It was the first victory for Wanderers over Bullets in cup final since they beat their rivals in the 2015 Carlsberg Cup 2-1 at Civo Stadium.

The Nomads lost all meetings against Bullets in cup games including the 2017 Carlsberg Cup final in which they went down 5-3 on post-match penalties after 2-2 stalemate in regulation time at the same venue.

They also lost 4-1 to Bullets in the semi-final of 2021 Airtel Top 8 at Kamuzu Stadium before another 4-0 humiliating defeat in the FDH Bank Cup semifinal.

Harrison felt his side deserved the victory.

“We had a good game-plan. The players did everything to win it,” Harrison said.

For Bullets, they trooped out of the BNS crest-fallen.

Honestly, they lacked hunger and zeal to win the Airtel Top 8.

Probably, they were satisfied with the league title and the FDH Bank Cup.

Again, may be, they were a bit relaxed having dominated fixtures against their rivals in recent years.

Bullets were also hoping to write another piece of history by becoming the second team to win the Airtel Top 8 Cup twice but it ended in tears as it was a sad day.

Only Silver Strikers have won the Airtel Top 8 Cup twice in 2017 and 2019.

The Central Bankers won the inaugural edition after beating Wanderers 10-9 on post-match penalties after goal-less in regulation time before they won it again in 2019 when they beat Karonga United 1-0.

For Bullets, they have lost the Airtel Top 8 Cup final twice but won it once in five years.

They lost 1-0 to Blue Eagles during the 2018 final. However, they won it in 2021 following 5-3 victory on post-match penalties over Silver after 1-1 stalemate in regulation time.

In post-match interview, Pasuwa admitted that his troops were second best on the day.

“Wanderers wanted it more. They were hungry for it,” the Zimbabwean said.

The Airtel Top 8 Cup did not take place in 2020 due to Covid-19 pandemic.

By its design, eight teams namely Wanderers, Bullets, Silver, Eagles, Karonga, Kamuzu Barracks, Mafco and Dedza Dynamos Salima Sugar qualified for the 2022 edition.

Indeed, it was a competition for the best dubbed Zamadolo izi.

Sports analyst Parly Chinyama said this year’s trophy was the most exciting ever.

“The final match lived up to its billing. We watched one of the best matches in recent years. This is good for football,’’ Chinyama said.

For the first time in the history of the competition, three players will share the golden boot spoils. Wanderers striker Chiukepo Msowoya, Bullets striker Lanjesi Nkhoma and Clement Nyondo of Dedza Dynamos scored two goals each.

However, the players failed to break Babatunde Adepoju’s record having won the award with eight goals in 2021 when Bullets won the cup.

Former Nomads striker Khumbo Ng’ambi won the award in 2017 with three goals before Joseph Kamwendo and Khuda Muyaba won it with two goals in 2018 and 2019 respectively.

FAST FACTS: Airtel Top 8 winners

2017: Silver Strikers

2018: Blue Eagles

2019: Silver Strikers

2020: Not held

2021: Nyasa Big Bullets

2022: Mighty Mukuru Wanderers

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