With only four minutes left, there could have been no better way to cap it all on Wednesday than with Isaac Mwale’s spectacular freekick that sent Joyce Banda Foundation (JBF) through to the quarter-finals of the Airtel Rising Stars (ARS) Africa Championship with a 1-0 win.
The clock does not lie and as the time ticked on towards the final moments, the two camps oozed with anxiety and just when the turnout thought the match would end goalless, JBF were awarded a freekick just outside the 18-yard box and the execution by Mwale was simply world-class as the ball went in on the far right corner of the net-no fuss, no panic, job done.
Such was the luxury that JBF took wing to the quarter-finals even with a game in hand against hosts Nigeria today afternoon.
The hosts and Malawi are tied at the top with six points having won both their games, but it is Nigeria who have the bragging rights courtesy of a better goal aggregate.
Earlier on, Nigeria beat Rwanda 1-0.
Both Rwanda and DR Congo are out of contention.
In all fairness, the Congolese were swept aside with contemptous ease by a side soaring with confidence.
But JBF coach Robert Munthali said even after the qualification they will not approach today’s game against the hosts casually.
“We want to finish at the top of Group A and as such we’ll not take it easy tomorrow (today). We do not have such luxury,” said Munthali.
On the other hand, Matindi Academy have a tall order in their quest to qualify after going down 3-0 to Sierra Leone.
But their coach Maggie Chombo-Sadiki put on a brave face, insisting that they still stand a chance.
It is an open group as all the four teams have three points each going into their final matches.
Team leader Emmanuel Kaunda of Airtel Malawi said they were happy with JBF’s performance.