In football theory and practicals, Mzuni FC’s intellectuals excelled to bring high-flying Be Forward Wanderers down to earth with a 4-2 defeat in an ill-tempered Kamuzu Stadium match on Sunday.
The third loss of the season saw the Nomads, who defeated Prison United 1-0 in a Carlsberg Cup quarterfinal the previous day in Balaka, finish the TNM Super League first round on position seven with 24 points. Mzuni are on fifth place with 27 points.
Such a loss was unthinkable as Wanderers, inspired by in-form Peter Wadabwa who has scored in four straight games, went into the game in a near unstoppable form.
But the Nomads played too narrow with mere wide midfielders, thereby granting Mzuni acres of space in the flanks.
Jimmy Zakazaka and Jafali Chande were expected to drift wide and support full-backs, but the two men struggled to defend. Wadabwa, who scored for Wanderers alongside Zakazaka, was isolated upfront.
On the politically-correct eastern terraces, Mzuni supporters made their presence felt by singing and dancing behind a banner inscribed The Green Intellectuals.
And Mzuni did not disappoint despite conceding barely five minutes into the game through Zakazaka’s low volley after doing great justice to Francis Mlimbika’s long ball from the left wing.
Zakazaka expertly side-footed the ball into the net at the near post. But just when the blue side of the stadium thought the Nomads were bound for yet another routine victory, Mzuni silenced the crowd through Fraston Chisi’s equaliser 11 minutes later.
Without towering defender Foster Namwela to mop all down balls and stop aerial ones, Wanderers looked vulnerable at the back.
Little wonder, the Nomads made a mess of Mzuni’s free-kick from the left wing with Alfred Manyozo Jnr and Harry Nyirenda spilling an attempted clearance onto the path of Chisi who bundled in the leveler across the goal-line.
Two minutes later, Wanderers were left in sixes and sevens.
Mzuni’s Liwindiko Mshane chest-controlled a long ball in front of Boston Kabango before passing to Hudson Milanzi, who confidently weaved his magic past the defence and through the legs of advancing goalkeeper Richard Chipuwa.
Rafik Namwela had a chance to equalise for Wanderers when he met Stanley Sanudi’s diagonal ball from the right, but the midfielder sent his volley into the terraces.
Soon the hosts paid for their impotence as Sanudi fouled Milanzi to give away a free-kick which once again breached the Nomads’ defence. From the goal-mouth scramble, Mshane drilled the ball into the net via a deflection on the stroke of half time.
In the second half, Chande thought he had scored, but his header flew wide with Mzuni goalkeeper Robson Chiyenda panicking.
Wanderers’ stand-in coach, Elia Kananji, substituted Manyozo Jnr and Kabango for Amos Bello and Ernest Tambe, respectively, in an attacking response. However, Wanderers were not quick and sharp in the final third.
Eventually, Chande was replaced by Genki Nakamura, but it was Mzuni who proved clinical and ruthless. Milanzi killed off the game as a contest when he thumped in the fourth from long range, giving unsuspecting Chipuwa no chance.
The Nomads got a consolation when Nakamura was fouled in the penalty box. From the penalty spot, Wadabwa stepped forward to score his 11th goal and become the league’s joint leading scorer alongside Mafco’s Richard Mbulu.
After the goal, fans on the eastern terraces started pelting onto the pitch in dissatisfaction with officiation. One of the missiles hit Tambe. Play resumed after the police moved in to quell the skirmishes.
The drama had started with Mzuni coach, Alex Ngwira, being dismissed from the bench for remonstrating against the referee.
At Chitowe Stadium, Nyasa Big Bullets and Dwangwa United drew 0-0 as the visitors finished the first round on 25 points while lying on position five. The hosts wound up on 11 points while placed 14th on the standings.
Wanderers’ line-up: Chipuwa, Kabango (Bello), Nyirenda, Mulimbika, Sanudi, Rafik Namwela, Mike Kaziputa, Chande (Nakamura), Manyozo (Tambe), Wadabwa, Zakazaka.
Mzuni’s line-up: Chiyenda, Bob Longwe, Timothy Siluwimba, Lughano Kayira, Khumbo Banda, Lazarus Nyemera, Victor Gondwe, Misanjo (Lackson Singano), Milanzi, Mshane, Chisi.
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