Nyasa Big Bullets yesterday set up a Carlsberg Cup final clash against their age-old rivals Be Forward Wanderers after coming from behind to beat Red Lions 2-1 at Bingu National Stadium (BNS) in Lilongwe.
The Nomads—who are the current holders—sailed through to the finals after ousting Moyale Barracks 3-2 on post-match penalties at Mzuzu Stadium on Saturday.
It will be the fourth time that the People’s Team will face the Nomads in the finals of the competition. The last time they met was in 2015 when Wanderers won 2-1.
Lions took the lead in the 28th minute after a sweeping counter-attack resulted in Loti Chawinga beating goalkeeper Ernest Kakhobwe from close range.
Bullets’ weakest link was in midfield where Chimango Kayira and Mike Mkwate were struggling to cope with the soldiers’ power, steel and zeal.
But slowly, as the match wore on, they crept into the match with Fischer Kondowe the heartbeat of their attacking moves.
The People’s Team found it tough to break the army side before half time as goalkeeper Jacob Kaunda denied Chiukepo Msowoya and Mussa Manyenje with point blank saves.
Lions’ resistance ended in the 56th minute when the referee, Chidziwitso Simbi, awarded Bullets a penalty, after Chawinga was adjudged to have handled the ball in the 18-yard box.
Forward Nelson Kangunje was tasked to take the spotkick and he duly converted to level the scoreline.
Bullets continued to bully Lions offensively and they got their reward when a counter-attack saw Kondowe slide a through ball to Chiukepo whose ferocious volley found the net for the second.
The striker, who rejoined Bullets three months ago after an unsuccessful spell in South Africa, has not been scoring and this goal was as valuable as gold.
When he was substituted for Muhammad Sulumba, Chiukjepo received a deserved ovation from Bullets faithful.
Lions did not create any clear-cut opportunities to inject any hopes of a comeback.
Red Lions assistant coach Pritchard Mwansa, in post-match interview, branded the officiation as poor while protesting vehemently against the penalty.
“It was never a handball and never a penalty. You can watch the replay and prove me wrong or right. With such officiation, football cannot develop in the country,” he said.
Bullets assistant coach Elia Kananji said the game was tough but hailed his side for progressing.
He was optimistic of winning it against Nomads.
“Our target is to win it. So we are looking forward to the final which I believe won’t be any easy,” he said. n