Mighty Mukuru Wanderers are one step in the semifinal of the Airtel Top 8 Cup after claiming a 2-0 win over Mafco FC at Kamuzu Stadium Sunday.
Mafco arrived at Kamuzu Stadium full of confidence, having ended Nyasa Big Bullets’ unbeaten run in the league this season last week.
However, they met a hungry side itching for its first trophy since 2018, when the Nomads won the defunct Fisd Challenge Cup.
Francis Mkonda and Vincent Nyangulu were on target as their first-half goals gave the Nomads a two-goal lead ahead of the second leg in two weeks.
The appetising fixture had a lot of happenings on the field, technical benches and in the terraces.
Wanderers went into the game with low spirits after their last week’s league defeat to Blue Eagles while their opponents were favourites after coming from a remarkable win over Bullets.
However, the soldiers’ physical approach to the match affected them as they committed more fouls.
Barely two minutes into the match, Simkonda scored the fastest goal of the competition when he headed a free-kick from Stanley Sanudi on the right wing.
Mafco protested the goal claiming it was scored from an offside position, to no avail.
Nyangulu added the second in the 33th minute following a defensive lapse by the soldiers.
Wanderers’ interchange of passes in the build-up to the goal finished with Yamikani Chester supplying it in the box where unmarked Nyangulu chipped it into the net to make it 2-0.
The Salima-based soldiers had a chance to reduce the score but Wanderers goalkeeper Pilirani Mapira saved Mphatso Philemon’s penalty.
Mafco continued with the rough play as referee Mercy Kayira had a torrid afternoon to control the tempers.
The soldiers sat deep and allowed Wanderers to control affairs in this half.
After the recess, the visitors brought in Mbulu brothers; Richard and Tony, and Peter Kasonga, who brought stability and pace to the game.
Mafco camped in Wanderers’ half for the better part of the second half but could not get a reward as the hosts’ defence stood firm with man of the match Mapira doing the magic between the posts.
Wanderers had a better share of chances in this half but wasted several chances, with striker Muhammad Sulumba missing the target on several occasions.
In the dying minutes of the game, tempers flared between the two technical benches with nomads coach Alex Ngwira and his opposite number Stereo Gondwe sharing s o m e bitter words.
Gondwe was eventually given matching orders.
Ngwira said they had to win at home to pile pressure on their opponents.
“We had to be alert to cut their supplies. Our plan was to score early goals to confuse them and it worked,” he said.
Mafco Assistant Coach Jimmy Mzunga said they will rectify their mistakes to win the return leg.
“If our counterparts managed to beat us 2-0, what can stop us from winning at our home?” he said.
In another Airtel Top 8 Cup match, Bullets thrashed Karonga United 7-0 at the same venue on Saturday.