This was an eventful afternoon when the Bankers literally came to MalawiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s commercial city, Blantyre, saw and conquered, leaving Escom and its symphathisers in a blackout.
Silver wrapped the TNM Super League championship on unsurpassed 48 points.
They surprised hosts with a commanding Clement Mvula and Harvey MkachaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s midfield display. Then man of the match Rodrick Gonani complemented it with a first-half goal, his 12th of the season. Luck, finally, ensured that it was safe in the bag.
No matter how Escom, who just needed a draw following other title contenders, WanderersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ 2-1 loss to Moyale, shot on target, either the ball went past defenders or busy goalkeeper Amadu Ali, but not the back of the net.
Ndaziona ChatsaliraÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s volley bounced off the upright and substitute Chimwemwe Nyakamera shot the rebound into the sky. Then Heston Munthali dragged his header fractionally wide. Defender Spencer Chapantha fired from close range, but the ball merely kissed the bar.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We did everything, attacked and hit the bar, but luck was simply not with us,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Escom coach Charles Manda.
Silver, too, had their moments to increase the lead, the closest being through Asedi Ayami. He accelerated past all players in green and gold. And when scoring seemed as easy as breathing, Ayami placed the ball into the side netting.
Thankfully, the final whistle calmed the nerves, transforming them into dance and song. Players, supporters, Silver chairperson Dr. McDonald Mafuta-Mwale and general secretary Owen Munthali at the VIP Stand joined in celebration.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“This trophy is not for players, we have won it for the supporters. They should be with us in forthcoming battles such as the Presidential Cup,Ã¢â‚¬Â Hellings Mwakasungula told the press in a post-match interview.
Finally, Silver earned their title at the cost of three lost jobs for Dan Dzinkambani, Meke Mwase and Mike Chirwa, paving the way for a caretaker panel of Itai Nundwe, Sibusiso Padambo and Mwakasungula.
For Escom, they lost the plot when in the middle of the campaign they decided to experiment with youngsters. When they swallowed their pride to recall veterans, it was too late. A playersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ training boycott a week before SaturdayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s match further complicated matters.
Meanwhile, Escom United chairperson Fanuel Nkhono, coach Charles Manda and winger Chatsalira have blamed the playersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ boycott for their failure to defend the league title.
Escom players staged a boycott in protest against unpaid dues in the countdown to the finale.
Nkhono said as a result of the boycott, the players lost steam.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The boys let us down. You do not raise issues when you are preparing for a war. Besides that, we were out of game time for three weeks,Ã¢â‚¬Â Nkhono said.
On his part, Manda said: Ã¢â‚¬Å“It was very painful that we failed to defend the league title because we had planned to either win or at least draw. So, the boycott affected the teamÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s endurance.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Chatsalira shared his coachÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s sentiments: Ã¢â‚¬Å“Obviously, that had an effect because our preparations were disturbed, somehow.Ã¢â‚¬Â
For winning the league, Silver will cart home K8 million (about $47 904) whereas Escom will get half the amount.
According to the sponsors, Silver Strikers will officially be crowned the 2011/12 TNM Super League champions on February 10 in Lilongwe.