Every bird that flies, it has to land at some point. Blaring car horns, blue and white flags were the most outstanding features yesterday as Mighty Mukuru Wanderers clinched the 2022 Airtel Top 8 Cup.
Wanderers ended their three-year trophy-less run in style with a 5-3 victory on post-match penalties over rivals Nyasa Big Bullets at a parked Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe yesterday.
Bullets were hoping for a treble but saw their dominance in domestic football came to an end.
They surrendered the trophy to Wanderers. For Wanderers, they could have gone four years without a trophy but the players responded in fashion to end the trophy drought.
This is a perfect Christmas gift for Wanderers family. It was a special moment for Wanderers who wrote their own piece of history by winning the Airtel Top 8 Cup for the first time since it was introduced.
For winning the trophy, Wanderers pocketed K17 million whereas Bullets got K5.5 million.
The two teams played out to a goal-less stalemate in regulation. However, there was no place to hide and nowhere to run as the contest was decided through the penalty shoot outs.
Striker Vincent Nyangulu was the hero of the day when he scored the decisive penalty for the Nomads.
On the other hand, defender Kesten Simbi, who had a grand game in regulation time, was the villain when he blasted his spot kick over the bar.
Stanley Sanudi, Francis Mkonda, Miracle Gabeya and Peter Cholopi also converted their spot kicks for Wanderers.
Bullets scored their penalties through Yamikani Fodya, Hassan Kajoke and Babatunde Adepoju.
In regulation time, it was a balanced affair for the better part of the match. However, Bullets started the match on a high as Adepoju forced goalkeeper Richard Chipuwa to make a reflex save.
Wanderers came close to scoring as Mkonda header was tipped over the bar by Bullets goalkeeper Richard Chimbamba.
Thereafter, Cholopi also had a chance but failed to slot in a Sanudi’s corner kick.
After the break, Bullets made triple substitution as they brought in Fodya, MacFallen Mgwira and Kajoke for Patrick Mwaungulu, Precious Sambani and Stanley Billiat.
On the other hand, Wanderers introduced Yamikani Chester for Misheck Botomani. Both teams had chances to win the match in regulation time. Ernest Petro was named man-of-the-match. In post-match interviews, Wanderers Coach Mark Harrison was on cloud nine.
“We deserved to win the trophy and we were desperate for it,’’ Harrison said, who has never lost a match since he took over as Wanderers coach.
Taking his turn, Bullets Coach Kalisto Pasuwa, looking dejected admitted it was not their day.
“Honestly, Wanderers wanted the trophy more than us and they showed more hunger,” Pasuwa said.
The golden boot in the 2022 Airtel Top 8 Cup will be shared amongst Clement Nyondo, Lanjesi, Nkhoma and Chiukepo Msowoya as each scored two goals.
This is the first time that Wanderers have won the cup since its introduction in 2017.
Silver Strikers, who lost to Bullets in the semifinal, are record holders having won it in 2017 and 2019 while Blue Eagles, who lost to Wanderers in the semifinal, won it in 2018. Bullets won it last year.