Rip-roaring Silver Strikers delivered a bold TNM Super League title defence message with a commanding 2-0 defeat of Mighty Wanderers at Kamuzu Stadium on a chilly afternoon yesterday.
The result of the opening match achieved through Rodrick Gonani’s brace, whose mood was perfectly set by an elegant all-white Malawi Defence Force’s soldiers’ march and trophy parade, left both teams with a six-point deficit.
This is so as Silver, who are chasing a fourth championship on the trot, are being docked nine points whereas Wanderers began on negative six points for the violence they committed last season at the Balaka Stadium on December 28 2013.
Silver coach Stein Chirwa warned that seizing the title from Area 47 would be a tough task for opponents evidenced by the fact that they held their own away despite losing key defenders; first Thoko Stambuli, then captain Lucky Malata to what appeared to be serious injuries in each half.
“Last season we were building a team. We are now stronger as each position has two players competing. I am so certain that we will offset the nine points and retain the title,” said Chirwa while his opposite number Stuart Mbolembole refused to grant interviews to the media.
Such is the pressure facing the Nomads that apart from a ball Silver cleared off the goal-line with goalkeeper Charles Swini desperately off guard, they never troubled the more resolute and comfortable visitors.
A succession of three corner kicks only saved to jerk Silver into action, but fans had to wait for the 50th minute for Gonani to slam in at the near post.
Winger Blessings Tembo’s right-wing direct free-kick had Wanderers’ defence failing to clear the ball with Chipuwa’s desperate punch only landing onto Gonani’s path.
One became two 13 minutes later after the break as Lazarous Menyera, thriving in the Bankers’ midfield diamond, squeezed his way past bemused Wanderers defender before squaring the ball into the box for Gonani, with his back to the goal mouth, to stylishly sweep the ball to the bottom corner with a back heel.
Wanderers, who had started with hardworking Felix Kamwendo on the right winger instead of his usually favoured brother Abraham on the bench alongside new recruit Tsanzo Dalio, eventually introduced the duo. But by then, Silver had grown in stature with substitute Sam Gunde hitting the post.
In other games, Azam Tigers beat Civo 2-1. At Chitowe Stadium, the honeymoon ended so quickly for rookies Chikwawa United who lost 3-0 to Mafco with Calisto Kalinda bagging a brace, joined on the score-sheet by Alfred Nyondo.