Top-flight league giants Nyasa Big Bullets, Mighty Wanderers and Mafco FC on Saturday scraped through to the FDH Bank Cup Round-of-16 following post-match penalties against minnows.
Big Bullets dismissed their Reserve side at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre with a 5-4 win, after a one-all draw in regulation time while Nomads came from behind to settle for a one-all draw against Karonga United at Mzuzu Stadium in normal time, before going through 5-3 in penalties.
At Civo Stadium in Lilongwe, Mafco triumphed 8-7 on penalties against second-tier Dedza Dynamos, after a one-all stalemate.
Blue Eagles FC, Moyale Barracks and Red Lions were the only sides that did not struggle to earn their Round of 16 tickets as they beat Ekwendeni United 2-0, TN Stars 2-0 and Simbi FC 3-2 respectively.
The Bullets encounter was probably the most intriguing.
The Reserves got the first scoring chance as early as the seventh minute, when Patrick Mwaungulu struck from just outside the box. However, the main team’s goalkeeper Rabson Chiyenda made a fantastic save.
Two minutes later, the senior team drew first blood when Yamikani Fodya swung in a cross from the right, before Luke Chima leapt acrobatically to strike past a helpless Reserves goalkeeper.
That goal was like an electric charge through the veins of the Reserves side as they forced their seniors to chase the game and they had most of the ball.
It was not surprising, therefore, that the Reserves eventually got an equaliser in the 31st minute, through a penalty after Mwaungulu was struck down in the box. Keston Simbi stepped up to take the spot-kick and he made no mistake as he sent goalkeeper Robson Chiyenda the wrong way, for the first-half to end one-all.
Sensing danger, the senior Bullets head coach Kalisto Pasuwa made triple substitutions in the 67th minute, when he brought in regulars Mike Mkwate, Hassan Kajoke and Mcfaren Mgwira in place of Alick Lungu, Pilirani Zonda and Chima.
Nevertheless, the changes only helped to balance the affairs as both sides engaged in fiery battle for possession up to the time the referee blew the final whistle for the game to go into penalties.
“Cup competitions are difficult, especially when you play against lower league teams. They seem to be very much motivated. However, it feels great that we are through to the next round,” said Pasuwa.
Despite that, Pasuwa said they could not blame his charges for their struggles, saying it was understandable considering that they gave most of their fringe players a chance for game time.
The Reserves coach Enos Chatama said although they have been booted out of the cup, they are relieved to have given their seniors tough time.
At Mzuzu Stadium, Anthony Mfune gave Karonga a lead before Francis Mkonda restored parity for the Nomads. Similar occurrence appeared at Civo Stadium, where Dynamos went ahead through Laymeck Gophani’s strike before Kingsley Nkhonjera gave Mafco the life-line.
At Mpira Stadium in Blantyre, Lions scored through Henry Kamunga, Mathews Simbeye and Moses Nankumba while Simbi found solace in Edgar Edson’s brace.
Eagles beat Ekwendeni Hammers through Gilbert Chirwa’s brace at Nankhaka Stadium whereas Moyale relied on Lloyd Njaliwa’s double.