Luke 6, verse 38 of the Holy Bible says it all: “A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
And so the measure that Be Forward Wanderers used to measure Silver Strikers last year when they beat them in post-match penalties of the Carlsberg Cup, came back to haunt them on Saturday when they lost in a similar fashion in the inaugural finals of the Airtel Top 8.
And it came as no miracle for the Bankers to inflict revenge on the Nomads to send the sky blue side of the capital city into ecstasy.
Suddenly, Wanderers’ proud tradition of winning inaugural tournaments was brought to a halt and they saw their rosy world crumble on them.
A Lilongwe-based Nomads fan Willard Katsache said: “Once bitten twice shy, so goes the saying. We needed to win the match in open play because there was no way we would have beaten Silver in penalties again.”
Prior to the final showdown, Silver coach Lovemore Fazili said: “Records are there to be broken. We are looking forward to halting their [Wanderers] tradition of being inaugural tournament winners.” And boy, it happened.
In the end, there was no bekeshu dance as they left the Bingu National Stadium with their heads hanged in disappointment and, like a candle in the wind, their light was blown away to leave a mist of darkness that enveloped everyone associated with the Lali Lubani Road outfit.
The solace for the Nomads is that their striker Khumbo Ng’ambi won the Golden Boot award that went with K500 000.
The penalty shoot-out dragged the fans through a bewildering gut of emotions. After the first round of penalties either side, they were still square, leading to the sudden death.
And as it appeared they were headed to a listless conclusion—holding the turnout hostage to the ebb-and-flaw of the events in that little penalty area—suddenly it happened.
Nomads defender Harry Nyirenda spot-kick was denied by the woodwork and it was all over!
“There is nothing more painful like losing a cup final through post-match penalties. We went through such an ordeal last year and it was distressing. I guess now was Wanderers’ turn to get the feel of what it is like,” said Silver captain Blessings Tembo on Sunday.
The beauty of it all was that the Bankers did it in spectacular fashion by winning just a single game in open play out of three, to reach the promised land and cart home a cool K15 million. Kutola chikwama ndi Airtel Money.
They only won their quarter-final first leg tie against Nyasa Big Bullets 1-0 via Victor ‘Vibre’ Limbani’s strike. The return leg ended goalless.
In the semi-finals, the Bankers played out a 1-all draw against Moyale Barracks and the Bankers again, sailed through via penalties. This was after Dan Ziba cancelled Mathews Sibale’s strike.
Ironically, they also conceded the least number of goals—just one—throughout the tournament.
Only two games were decided through a penalty shoot-out and they both involved the Bankers.
Ng’ambi scored the only hat-trick of the tournament against Moyale, a feat that earned him the top scorer award, but it was Moyale who scored the highest number of goals—seven.
The quarter-final first leg between Kamuzu Barracks and Blue Eagles which ended 4-2 in favour of the former and the second leg between Moyale and Mafco which also had a similar score margin in favour of the Mzuzu-based soldiers, had the highest scoring margins.
Only one red card was shown to Azam Tigers defender Nickson Mwase.
Nyasa Big Bullets were the only team to bow out of the tournament without scoring a goal.
Soccer analyst Charles Nyirenda said overall, it was a good tournament.
“Very brief, intense and quite exciting. The format of having two-legs for the quarter-finals and straight knock out afterwards added spice to the enjoyment. There were concerns about organisation with teams or their supporters misbehaving by indulging in primitive practices such as denying opponents access to the venue of a match to train 24 hours before the game as per standing rules.
“There were also security failures that allowed three Be Forward Wanderers supporters to trespass into the field of play and urinate against the goal posts without being apprehended. That aside, the teams involved entertained the patrons and I can happily say that in spite of earlier security and administrative lapses, the final was well organised with everything working perfectly well to bring the competition to a flawless conclusion,” he said. n