An excitement laden Thuso Paipi somersaulted twice, raced towards Silver Strikers joyous supporters, took off his shirt and yelled in celebration.
It was a memorable moment for the Bankers as this youngster had just netted the decisive penalty that sunk Kamuzu Barracks (KB) yesterday and set up the Airtel Top 8 final clash against Be Forward Wanderers.
After a pulsating 90 minutes, laced with mind games, verbal attacks on referees and flying tackles at Civo Stadium in Lilongwe, the two teams settled for a one-all draw after Dan Ziba, with 20 minutes left, cancelled a Green Harawa’s first half strike.
The match went into nail-biting post-match penalty shoot-out which the bankers won 5-3. Mustafa Salimu proved the villain having missed KB’s first spot-kick. Though his teammates Vincent Mphepo, Pempho Kansichili and Sammy Chiponda converted, it yielded nothing.
Silver were so clinical from the spot-kick so much that national team goalkeeper Lemani Nthala was no match. Blessings Tembo, Green Harawa, Chisomo Mpachika, Young Chimodzi Junior found the net before Paipi sealed it.
Silver dominated the first half with sleek passes and breathless attacking led by the trinity of Harawa, Paipi and Tembo the centre of every move. They led in the 23rd minute when Harawa defied his pint height to nod home from a corner kick.
KB were lucky to be 1-0 down by half time. When play resumed the Army side was able to absorb the pressure from the Bankers and had an upper hand in the latter stages.
An attacking move in the 73rd minute led into a Chisomo Mpachika handball and referee Ishmael Chizinga had no choice but to award a penalty which Ziba dully buried home.
There were no clear cut chances in the closing moments as both teams were seemingly banking their hopes in a post-match penalty victory.
Silver coach Lovemore Fazili described the victory as well deserved and revenge after KB eliminated his side from the Fisd Challenge Cup last season.
“It’s a sweet victory that was very much won on our game plan. We planned to score an early goal and we did. This destabilised our opponents. We conceded late though because we relaxed a bit,” he said.
His KB counterpart Billy Phambala blamed his side’s loss on poor officiation.
“The referees were not fair as they let our opponents get most of the key decisions. It is not good for our football. Nonetheless, it is a shock that we have been eliminated,” he said.
The Bankers will meet Wanderers in the final this Saturday. n