Wizards FC, probably the football team that is liked the most by neutrals in the country, won the hearts and the maximum points on their rebound into the 2016 TNM Super League Monday.
Wizards created many scoring chances as they danced their way to a 1-0 win over Red Lions in front of a sizeable partisan crowd at Kamuzu Stadium.
Attacking midfielder Blessings Phiri, who had replaced Isaac Mwale during interval, scored 44 seconds into the second half, meeting a square pass outside the 18-yard box to fire the ball past an otherwise impressive Lions goalkeeper Jacob Kaunda.
With the win, the Wizards moved from position 15 to 12 on the log table with three points, whereas the Zomba soldiers remain in the bottom half of the table following two straight defeats.
However, Wizards still have work to do on their finishing.
From the first whistle, it was clear that Wizards were looking for early goals, but Franklin Mulimanjala fired straight at Lions ‘keeper Kaunda after four minutes.
Wizards continued to thrill with sweet passing. They should have gone ahead after 17 minutes, but Hendrix Misinde saw his shot cleared off the line by Mphatso Ngwira after keeper Kaunda was dispossessed of the ball while trying to dribble past a striker.
The former Surestream Academy side came knocking at the Lions’ den again, this time around Bernard Chimaimba sent his dipping free-kick crashing against the bar.
Sensing that his attack was blunt, Lions Coach, Mike Kumanga, replaced Willard John with imposing Innocent Bokosi, but he found the opponent’s defence, which was led by man-of-the match Chembezi Denis, uncompromising.
The hosts’ coach, Peter Mponda, got his tactics right when he introduced Phiri to play in the advanced midfield role. Little wonder, Phiri scored with virtually his first touch of the ball.
Mulimanjala had another opening at the near post but he hesitated with Kaunda narrowing the angle before punching the striker’s shot away.
The Lions’ keeper denied Mulimanjala in similar manner minutes later as Wizards failed to translate their dominance into goals with Denis’s long-range shot eventually flying over the bar. Phiri had another scoring chance, but he could not add the second.
In a post-match interview, Mponda said they were determined to prove their critics wrong after struggling last season when they were relegated.
“We have learnt a lot from the past and now the commitment is good. We have worked so hard in many areas. We have improved not only technically but also physically,” Mponda said.
His Lions counterpart, Mike Kumanga and his assistant, Prichard Mwansa stormed off the pitch in protest over what they felt was biased Waneck Mlenga’s officiation.
At Civo Stadium in Lilongwe, Epac chalked their first win of the season when they thrashed Kamuzu Barracks (KB) 4-1.
Epac scored through Francis Mkonde, Mphatso Zongololo, Anthony Banda and Mude Jeffrey, whereas Kamuzu Barracks netted through Kelvin Hanganda.
This means Kamuzu Barracks have lost three consecutive games in the league.
KB Coach, Billy Phambala, admitted that he was concerned with the performance of his team but promised to come back stronger when the two teams meet in the Presidential Cup on Thursday.
Epac mentor, Audloy Makonyola, was pleased with the first victory of the season
Wizards: Davie Pashane, Trevor Kalema, Blessings Joseph, Denis, Timothy Gova, Tilekeleni Joseph, Franklin Mulimanjala, Mwale (Phiri), Benard Chimaimba, Hendrix Misinde, Patrick Phiri
Lions: Kaunda, Chikoti Chirwa, Mphatso Ngwira, Saopa Mpotalinga, Gibson Nkhonjera, Steve Ziba, Willard John (Innocent Bokosi), Kumbukani Mwambene (Moses Nankumba), Boniface Kaulesi, Lottie Chawinga, Chikondi Sanudi.
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