Ekwendeni Hammers fought every inch of the way, but they just couldn’t match their opponents and it is Silver Strikers who carted home the K25 million FDH Bank Cup winners’ prize yesterday.
The Central Bankers came out 2-0 victors amid scenes of delirium at Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe which the Reserve Bank of Malawi-sponsored side turned into a theatre of celebrations at the final whistle.
A goal in each half from midfielder Frank Banda and striker Stain Dave ensured that Silver were in the comfort zone ready to party at their Area 47 base.
Experience played a crucial role in this victory as Silver played with patience in building up their offensive.
And so out of the 78 teams that competed for the K25 million, it was the Central Bankers who will walk majestically in the corridors of FDH Bank on Monday.
As runners up Ekwendeni got K8 million.
Ekwendeni were the first to get a shot on target after exchanging beautiful passes on the right wing, But Silver’s goalkeeper Charles Thom was there to take care of the situation.
The rookies continued to pounce and their closest chance came when former Silver hitman Mike Tetteh’s hard drive was fumbled by Thom, but he recovered in time to save the situation just after three minutes.
Slowly but with determination, the hosts regrouped and took the game to the visitors.
In the 11th minute, a good exchange of passes from Silver led to a goal by Davie, but the lines man’s flag was up for offside and referee Mayamiko Kanjere did not let it count.
The hosts’ experienced midfield of Banda, Tawonga Chimodzi, Blessings Tembo and Zebron Kalima was supreme and were always first on the ball.
On the other hand Eneya Banda, Brian Banda, Blessings Singini and Clever Kaira were flat for Ekwendeni and could not supply the front line, drawing frequent angry instructions from their coach.
In the 26th minute, Tembo curled a beautiful free kick, but Ekwendeni ‘keeper Chancy Mtete was up to the task producing a superb save.
The visitors resilience faltered in the 38th minute as Mtete failed to tame a Frank Banda header from a Zebron Kalima corner kick.
Ekwendeni coach Etson Kadenge Mwafulirwa made some changes, pulling out Brian Phiri for Chawa Gumbo.
The pattern continued after recess with the hosts dominating all departments and doubled the lead in the 54th minute.
Davie darted past Ekwendeni defenders to slot home a Blessings Tembo pass.
It was a comfortable win for the hosts who didn’t have to exert themselves further.
Mwafulirwa described the loss as painful.
He said: “The central midfield let us down. The transition from defence to midfield was not good. We were also second on the ball. We conceded a silly goal and from my angle it was offside. But that’s football for you. Nevertheless, to reach this far is an achievement in itself.”
Silver assistant coach Mcdonald Yobe had lots of praise for his players.
“I think our opponents’ strategy was to score an early goal and leave us chasing the game. They threatened in the early minutes, but we managed to contain them. We were patient enough and played with purpose and maturity. I believe we could have won with a bigger margin had we converted all our chances,” he said.
FDH Bank marketing manager Ronald Chimchere described the tournament as successful.
“There were no cases of violence, but also the competition on the pitch was intense. We watched quality football throughout. As you know, we also sponsor the national team as FDH. We hope to see some of the talent exposed through this tournament,” he said.