Mighty Wanderers are the first team to make it into the Airtel Top 8 semi-finals after subduing Moyale Barracks 5-4 in post-match penalties at Chitowe Stadium in Dwangwa, Nkhotakota.
The Nomads goalkeeper William Thole was the hero of the day after converting his spot kick in open play that cancelled Moyale’s first leg goal as well as the decider in post-match penalties.
But it was midfielder Yamikani Chester’s sterling performance which saw him handed the man of the match accolade, who kept Moyale at bay.
Going into the match leading with an away goal, Moyale made the mistake of thinking they could stop Wanderers attack machinery of Chester, Francisco Nkonda, Aubrey Maloya and Misheck Bottoman.
That plan backfired and when the pressure got huge, Moyale defender Innocent Bottoman cleared a goal-bound shot with his hands, prompting the referee Godfrey Nkhakananga to award the penalty in the 43rd minute.
Thole surprised the fans who witnessed the match when he stepped forward to take the spot kick.
Some doubted if he had the clout to convert it, but the goalie’s dexterity saw his counterpart MacDonald Harawa sent the wrong way.
That spot kick proved vital as it meant the two sides were now tied 1-1 on aggregate.
Though the second half saw both sides trying different approaches to wrap it up in regulation time, still no goal came forth.
In post-match penalties, Moyale were dealt a blow when their captain Lloyd Njaliwa’s first penalty was blown over.
Wanderers captain Alfred Manyozo made no mistake converting the Nomads’ first spot kick.
The rest of his crew followed in his foot steps—Peter Cholopi, Stanley Sanudi and Nkonda all nicely put it past Harawa.
Though the other Moyale penalty takers Raphael Phiri, Deus Nkutu, Ntopwicho Njewa and Sandres Munthali made sure they converted theirs, it was too late.
Thole, bubbling with confidence, took the deciding spot kick and this time he sent it to the roof of the net to the disbelief of Harawa.
Moyale coach Pritchard Mwanza admitted that his game plan backfired in the first half and that it was too late when they tried to change.
Wanderers coach Bob Mpinganjira said it was mission accomplished, having made it to the semi-finals after losing the first leg.
The battle for the semi-final spots continues this afternoon as Mafco host Nyasa Big Bullets at the same venue.
The Super League champions won the first leg 3-1 at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre a fortnight ago.