Down to the wire! Kamuzu Barracks (KB) and defending champions Nyasa Big Bullets kept their title hopes on the boil in the TNM Super League yesterday, following their victories at Mzuzu Stadium and Kamuzu Stadium respectively.
KB earned a comfortable 3-0 win over Karonga United to take their tally to 58 points with a game to go and maintain a strangle-hold at the summit of the 16-team log table. They will be crowned champions if they triumph in their last match against Dwangwa United.
At Kamuzu Stadium, Bullets banked on a priceless goal by substitute Chiukepo Msowoya five minutes to time to bag home maximum points that have helped them reclaim the second place. They are a point behind KB and to retain the crown, they need to beat Blue Eagles in their last encounter and hope that KB will falter in their conclusive match.
There were tears of despair for the Civil Servants as they painfully kissed the top-flight league good bye after a 30-year romance that saw them win the maiden edition in 1986.
With his voice straining with emotion, Civo captain Nelson Kangunje said: “It is like a dream, I just can’t believe that we are going down. We tried, oh yes, everyone did, but perhaps it wasn’t just enough.”
This means the battle for the ultimate K15 million prize will be decided on the final day.
Third-placed Silver Strikers will as well have an opportunity to grab the title if they win their last two games and hope that both KB and Bullets lose their final games. Currently, the Bankers have 53 points and their maximum points are 59.
In other encounters, PremierBet Wizards survived relegation following a 1-0 victory over Red Lions at Zomba Community Centre ground. Patrick Phiri scored the only goal to take Wizards’ tally to 30 points.
Karonga and Civo have been relegated alongside disbanded Max Bullets. Karonga have finished the campaign on 27 points while Civo will as well settle on 27 points if they win their last game.
At Mzuzu Stadium, Manase Chiyesa scored a brace and Kelvin Hanganda claimed the other goal for KB.
For Bullets, Msowoya jumped above Civo defenders in the 85th minute to seal the victory with a header. He connected home Fischer Kondowe’s cross from the right flank.
“We are quite relieved that we are still in contention for the title. This was a tough game,” said Big Bullets team manager Rahim Ishmail.
Civo assistant coach Beggie Mwagombwa refused to comment but one of the team’s players Blessings Phiri said: “We didn’t expect this loss and it is painful to be relegated. We had opportunities but we lacked composure.”
In Zomba, a 78th minute strike by Phiri earned Premier Bet Wizards a much-desired win to survive relegation. The win has taken their tally to 30 points.
In a postmatch interview, Wizards technical director Peter Mponda heaved a sigh of relief and thanked his charges for a job well done. Red Lions team manager Alexander Saka blamed the loss on officiation.—Additional reporting by JOY KHAKONA