A multiplying injury list, an absent coach, the death of a former player and official—it was a difficult week for the blue side of town.
With such a pall of sadness hanging over the Lali Lubani Road, Be Forward Wanderers needed something to brighten up the mood when they rolled up their sleeves against Kamuzu Barracks FC (KB) on Wednesday.
And the Nomads got it in abundance. There were scenes of jubilation as Wanderers stormed the Carlsberg Cup quarterfinals after seeing off KB with a 2-0 win, courtesy of Jimmy Zakazaka and Peter Wadabwa’s third and 84th minute strikes, respectively.
The defending champions date Prison United in the last-eight, but Wednesday it was tough getting past a strong opposition which the Nomads defeated 2-1 in a TNM Super League match at the same venue 11 days ago.
Wanderers marched onto the pitch in a sombre mood. They were coming to terms with the death of former general secretary, Richard Kambalame, ex-midfielder Isaac Msowoya, an absence of coach Eddingtone Ng’onamo and injuries to key players Boston Kabango, Isaac Kaliyati, Nenani Juwaya, Peter Munthali, Rafiq Mussa and Rafik Namwela.
However, it took three minutes for the dark cloud to vanish from the stadium as Zakazaka, playing with maturity and intelligence, jabbed in the opener with his left when arriving late in the box to meet Wadabwa’s hard-and-low from the right.
On a counterattack, Wadabwa had turned sharply past KB left-back, Mustafa Salimu, before chasing a long ball and whipping it across the goal-mouth.
After the goal, Wanderers were on the ascendancy, playing with speed and directness which kept KB, who were missing influential midfielder Dave Banda, retreating and surrendering possession. Wadabwa was the architect of Wanderers’ attacks.
In fact, Wanderers should have killed off the game in the first half. KB keeper, Lemani Nthala, instinctively fisted out Luka Milanzi’s bouncing header before Jafali Chande sent his weak effort straight at the goalkeeper.
The visitors replied through a razor-sharp counterattack that found Wanderers’ defensive pillar, Foster Namwela, in no man’s land. To Wanderers’ relief, KB’s Julius Makwinja fired wide before Harvey Mkacha headed the ball against the post.
KB were very physical on the ball whereas Wanderers were slippery on and off it. Somehow, the Nomads went to interval carrying a risky 1-0 lead.
The start into the second half was promising for the hosts with Zakazaka’s direct free-kick goal ruled out for an offisde by referee Aziz Nyirenda.
The soldiers added firepower by substituting Gift Mbwana and Victor Saidi for Manase Chiyesa and Diof Simaone, respectively. Wanderers also rested Milanzi for left winger Ibrahim Sadiki.
The impact was instant for the soldiers as Simaone’s trademark bullet caused pandemonium in the Nomads’ box before defender Harry Nyirenda came to the rescue with a goal-line clearance.
Eventually, the game lost its steam as both teams pumped long balls all over the pitch. In the late stages, Wadabwa provided the missing spark when he flicked into the net a free-kick from Stanley Sanudi’s free-kick.
In reaction, Nthala stood hands akimbo in disbelief. With that piece of magic from the in-form Wadabwa, the game ended and it was party time for assistant coach Elia Kananji and his troops.
“The whole team stepped up to the plate. Our eyes are on retaining the cup. We have to bring it back home,” Kananji said while his opposite number Ted Kalinda accepted defeat.
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