There is no armour against fate. Perhaps that is the lesson Azam Tigers learned from their painful 1-0 loss to Nyasa Big Bullets in Carlsberg Cup at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre yesterday.
The Kaukau Boys enjoyed most of the ball possession and created a horde of scoring opportunities. But unfortunately, it is not them who are progressing to the quarter-finals of the cup since it is only goals that matter in the unfair game of football.
And who else if not Mussa Manyenje who inflicted the painful loss with an 86th minute strike.
It was a repeat of their 2014 Carlsberg Cup encounter in which the striker equalised in the dying minutes before Bullets scored the winner through James Chilapondwa.
While in 2014 Bullets had an upper hand, yesterday it was Tigers who were the kings on the pitch.
They defended well using their towering defenders led by Clifton Kankhuni who policed strikers Chiukepo Msowoya and Manyenje.
Tigers’ slow build-ups from the back through the midfield with Yamikani Chester pulling the strings and all the way upfront where Bright Munthali was the man to watch, Bullets were reduced to amateurs.
Munthali almost put the Kaukau Boys in the lead in the 17th minute when he forced goalkeeper Ernest Kakhobwe to make an acrobatic save.
Minutes later, Chester, who had a game of his life on the left wing, saw his shot from an indirect free-kick calmly collected by Kakhobwe.
Impressive Kakhobwe was back minutes later to rescue Bullets by making yet another save this time keeping away Stain Pondame’s shot just outside the box.
But just after recess, Bullets made double substitution pulling out George Nyirenda and overshadowed Fischer Kondowe for Henry Kabichi and Diverson Mlozi.
That proved the turning point as the People’s Team seemed to have breathed some life into their disjointed attack.
It was just a matter of time before the Kanjedza-based outfit would break under the Bullets nkumadzulo spell as Manyenje netted near the post after a loose ball from the blind side eluded Tigers defenders.
The goal left Tigers coach Gerald Phiri Snr gazing into the sky in search of answers for his team’s misfortune.
Tigers technical director Robin Alufandika accepted defeat with his chin held high.
“It’s a painful loss. We had several chances, but failed to utilise them,” Alufandika said. “Thumbs up to the referee [Duncan Lengani]. That was top class officiation.”
But Bullets assistant coach Mabvuto Lungu felt they could have done better than to struggle against Tigers.