The sky fell on Nyasa Big Bullets forward Nelson Kangunje yesterday when he missed a crucial penalty as Moyale Barracks took wing to the finals of the Fisd Challenge Cup and set up an all-Malawi Defence Force (MDF)showdown against Kamuzu Barracks (KB).
Seemingly doomed to defeat with four minutes to full time, the Lions of Kaning’ina in Mzuzu hauled themselves out of the mire to pull level with virtually the last kick of the game to force the match into post-match penalty shoot-out in a contest that drove the fans through a bewildering gamut of emotions at Civo Stadium in Lilongwe.
After four penalties either side, the two teams were all square.
Then Chrispin Fukizi converted Moyale’s last penalty and up stepped Kangunje for the make-or-break spot-kick.
With the entire stadium held hostage to the ebb-and-flow of the events in that little penalty area, and as the fans held their breath, Moyale goalkeeper McDonald Harawa leapt to his left to keep out Kangunje’s spot-kick.
It was over for the People’s Team.
Missi Kadawati, Timothy Nyirenda, Suwedi Limbani, Ntopijo Njewa and Fukizi converted their spot-kicks for Moyale with characteristic composure while Mussa Manyenje, Pilirani Zonda, John Lanjesi and Fisher Kondowe scored for Bullets.
In open play, Moyale drew first blood through Khuda Muyaba who connected home a cross from Fukizi just after the half hour to lead 1-0 at the interval.
But Collen Nkhulambe levelled the scores just minutes into the second half when he ghosted in to slot the ball into the net after Moyale’s ‘keeper had rushed to keep out Chiukepo Msowoya’s effort.
And with four minutes to full time, Bullets were awarded a penalty—albeit in controversial circumstances—which veteran winger Fischer Kondowe beautifully netted.
And just when victory appeared to be within touching distance for Bullets, Muyaba pounced on a rebound from a cross that hit the cross-bar to head home the equaliser.
Moyale coach Nicholas Mhango said his side deserved to sail through.
“If we are to be fair, we were the dominant side. We were supposed to win and it will be nice facing KB in the finals,” he said.
His Bullets counterpart Eliah Kananji accepted defeat, saying: “It was just not our day. We played our game, but it just didn’t work.”