In a contest that had striking similarities to the Standard Bank Knockout Cup the previous afternoon, Azam Tigers cruised into the finals yesterday after seeing-off Mafco in a nerve-shredding penalty shootout yesterday.
After playing out a 1-1 draw in a cut-throat affair at Silver Stadium in Lilongwe, Fifa referee Dennis Ngulube invited the two teams to the lottery shoot-out and in the end, it was the Kau-Kau boys who came out triumphant.
Tigers and Silver Strikers will, therefore, meet in the Standard Bank Knockout Cup finals this coming Saturday.
Incidentally, the other semi-final match between Mighty Wanderers and Silver Strikers was also settled by penalties. The only difference, though, was that yesterday’s penalties were not a one-sided affair.
After converting five penalties each, it had to come to sudden death and the sky fell on Mafco’s Precious Gawani, whose spot-kick was denied by the post and up stepped Tigers’ lanky midfielder Patrick Thupi to coolly convert past goalkeeper Frank Kasiamo and the Kau Kau Boys were way up in the sky, turning the stadium into a theatre of celebrations.
The regulation time that was played for close to 100 minutes and watched by a sizeable crowd that included the sponsors’ CEO Andrew Mashanda and FAM executive committee members James Mwenda and Paul Mzungu, was compelling.
Silver’s technical panel, led by coach Stein Chirwa, was also there to watch their prospective opponents.
Just like Saturday, the eventual winners Tigers, were the first to score through Gomezgani Gondwe’s powerful shot in the eighth minute, but Mafco pulled level in the fourth minute of first-half injury time when Paul Ndhlovu connected from a goal melee following Zasher Mnong’oneza’s long throw in beating goalkeeper Nenani Chiwaya who had just replaced injured Thomas Kalavina.
Mafco coach Stereo Gondwe was a model of modesty in defeat.
“I cannot complain, penalties are lottery and I wish Tigers and Silver a good final,” he said.
Tigers technical director Robin Alufandika also described it as a tough contest that could have gone either way.