Red Lions fought harder but Big Bullets fought smarter. The soldiers scored but the Peoples Team netted more. Saturdayâ€™s tense Kamuzu Stadium afternoon, once again, belonged to the Bullets revival.
Strikers Grant Lungu and gifted gem, Gabadinho Mhango scored in each half, wiping out Prichard Mwansa early penalty strike to book the Bulletsâ€™ passport to Fellowship Association of Malawi (Fama) Top Eight final.
Not that it was a perfect afternoon. Ugly scenes erupted after the final whistle. Some Lions substitute players delivered mob justice on referee Fransisco Scova for denying striker Dan Katungaâ€™s two first-half goals which looked genuine.
Despite the ugly skirmishes, let beautiful football, displayed by both teams, be declared the winner. If you believe in reds say it loud and say it proudly. Bullets could, after all, be back in town.
The reunion of the Bullets past in Lungu, Kondowe and the present in Mhango seem to have done the revival trick.
Mhango fired home the winner, a bullet header deep in the second-half and credit was on Kondoweâ€™s inch-perfect right flank cross.
The goal came after Lungu, who was visibly struggling for fitness and was replaced by Godfrey Masonda, had side-footed into the net a first-half equaliser. It came minutes after Mwansaâ€™s penalty, following Fundi Akiduâ€™s hand ball, had sent Bullets terraces into panic mode.
But in the end, captain Kondoweâ€™s experience proved priceless. Mhango looked like the real scoring deal with a work rate unseen in the red colours for ages. Midfield general Jeresi Lufeyo was the creative brain.
Coach Eddington Ngâ€™onamoâ€™s remaining homework is in the suspect defence. “Yeah, we played well but we can do better,” he could afford an infectious smile.
Three games of two wins and a draw in the pre-season is beyond a fluke. There can be no illusions that Bullets have fully clicked into gear, but there is hope.
No wonder Bullets fans climbed on everything in the terraces, including floodlight towers. The fans then stayed on at the stadium for an hour after the game just to ensure the reality of their hard-fought win was not just a dream.
Either Blue Eagles or Epac FC, who meet in another Lilongwe semi-final today, wait for the Bullets in the final. K3 million (about $18 000) is at stake.
Lions coach Collins Mkuna was not amused by officiation saying: “Bullets scored beautiful goals no doubt. We also scored, but the referee was against us. You cannot call it bias. Letâ€™s call this outright incompetence.”