Nyasa Big Bullets on Sunday defended the TNM Super League crown in one of the toughest and nail-biting title races in history with a 2-0 home triumph over TN Stars at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre.
They have completed their fixtures on 70 points, just a point above their bitter rivals and runners-up Be Forward Wanderers, who thrashed hosts Mlatho Mponela 3-0 at Civo Stadium in Lilongwe.
To take the ultimate glory, Wanderers needed to beat Mponela and hope that Bullets falter against Stars, but their dream went up in smoke after Bullets secured a 15-game unbeaten run that included 13 wins and two draws.
This is the second time in three seasons that a point has separated the champions and the runners-up as in 2016, Kamuzu Barracks won with 61 points with Bullets finishing second on 60 points.
Yesterday, Bullets earned the crucial points through first-half goals by Peter Banda and Hassan Kajoke, who struck in the seventh and 43rd minutes, respectively.
“We worked hard for the victory. This was a tough season and it is quite a relief that we have successfully defended the title,” said Bullets coach Calisto Pasuwa.
At Civo Stadium, Wanderers, who at one point had an eight-point lead in the league, also scored early goals through Vincent Nyangulu’s brace and Peter Cholopi, but it was not good enough to help the Nomads end a two-season title drought.
“We are disappointed that we didn’t win the league and any trophy this season. However, we tried our best by putting up a gallant fight. All the same, congratulations to Bullets for defending the title,” said Wanderers coach Bob Mpinganjira.
He apologised to the Nomads family for a poor season while promising to come back stronger next season.
Mlatho team manager Blessings Makanjira blamed the loss on poor concentration in the opening half.
“I think the boys came into the match with a spirit that they had nothing to lose as we had already been relegated,” he said.
Mponela wrapped up the season a place from the bottom with 23 points.
Blue Eagles have finished third, on superior goal difference having tied on 53 points with fourth-placed Silver Strikers.
On individual glory, Silver’s forward Khuda Muyaba has finished as the top scorer with 21 goals, becoming the first player in 14 seasons to win the accolade with more than 20 goals. Kajoke is the runner-up with 17.
TNM chief executive officer Michiel Buitelaar said they are happy that the season has ended on a high tempo and they are looking forward to a more exciting season next year.