At exactly 5.17pm on Sunday, Malawi Minister of Youth and Sports Enoch Chihana handed the 2012/13 TNM Super League trophy to Silver Strikers captain Lucky Malata, officially crowning them champions.
This was despite their losing to visiting Mighty Wanderers 1-0 at Civo Stadium in Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe.
Silver have finished with 58 points just like Big Bullets, who on Sunday beat Red Lions 3-0 at Kamuzu Stadium. The Bankers have been crowned champions courtesy of a superior aggregate.
It was a fitting last day of the league as the match at Civo was watched by a capacity crowd, including Sulom president Innocent Bottomani, TNM executive Pat Mhone and FAM vice-president Pikawo Ngalamila.
Silver’s executive was vindicated of changing the coaches for three times within a season as coach Franco Ndawa delivered the priceless trophy.
Jubilant Ndawa gave credit to God for the feat. “I also thank the players for playing with passion to ensure that we salvage something for the supporters and also the sponsors. It is a great day for the club and for me personally,” said Ndawa.
Silver diehard fan Chimwemwe Nyimbiri said the third successive title triumph put Silver among the elite clubs in Malawi.
“Looking at the competition in the league, it is not easy to win successively. It shows we are an elite club,” said Nyimbiri.
Wanderers’ goal was scored by Mike Kaziputa who had come in for injured Gerald Phiri Jnr.
Bullets fought to the very end, but sadly, it was not enough. They had a tall order to overcome the Bankers’ 10-goal difference and only managed to reduce it to six.
For their win, Silver take home the K9 million (about $25 000) winners’ purse while Bullets, for all their sweat and effort, will get K5 million (about $13 888) as runners-up.
At Kamuzu Stadium, Diverson Mlozi put Bullets on the path to victory in the 44th minute with a superb shot that gave Lions goalkeeper Jacob Kaunda no chance.
Then wonderkid Gabadinho Mhango sealed the Bullets win with a double in the second-half.
The second goal, that was orchestrated by Dalitso Sailesi, was a beauty. Sailesi weaved his way past four Lions players and then fed the ball into the path of Gabadinho, who in turn beat two defenders before scoring, sending the Bullets faithful into frenzy.
The last goal was a penalty awarded after a dangerously advancing Mlozi was fouled in the danger zone and up stepped Gabadinho to do the rest to perfection.
Bullets coach Eddingtone Ng’onamo said there is no humiliation in coming second, especially in a race decided by goal difference.
“We fought right to the very end and failing to win the championship by goal difference just shows how we fought and patience should be our guiding virtue going forward. Such a heartbreak is part and parcel of this game. We have finished on second position with our heads held high,” said Ng’onamo.
Lions have finished on fifth position with 46 points.