Silver Strikers are the inaugural Airtel Top 8 champions after beating Be Forward Wanderers 10-9 through post-match penalites at Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe yesterday.
The victory was sweet revenge for Silver who lost to Wanderers through post-match penalties as well in Carsberg Cup final last year.
Defender Harry Nyirenda missed a decisive sudden death penalty after a goalless draw in regulation time. Wanderers preferred the experience of Vales Kamzere instead of Richard Chipuwa, who manned the goal during the semi-final final against Moyale Barracks last week.
In the first-half, Wanderers created the most scoring opportunities. They had three clear chances that could have translated into goals.
Yamikani Chester and Jabulani Linje were at the hub of Nomads’ wastefulness after getting the better of Silver defenders at will on several occasions. Unfortunately for Wanderes, Chester and Linje efforts were either tamed by an in-form Brighton Munthali on Silver goals, or off target.
Silver, too, had their moments, but on several occasions Thuso Paipi let his strikers down as he delayed to release the ball preferring to dribble past defence alone to the dissapointment of strikers Binwell Katinji and Green Harawa.
After recess, it was Wanderers again who started strongly and nearly went ahead in the 47th minute. In the 52nd minute, Munthali had to leave his goal and block two shots from Linje and Chester after Silver defence had been overwhelmed.
Sensing impotence in attack, Silver removed Harawa for Binwell Katinji and nearly got a goal soon after.
A good exchange of passes between Paipi, Katinji and Blessings Tembo broke Wanderers defence headed by Lucky Malata. But Kamzere proved his worth, stretching fully to stop Paipi’s effort as the match ended in a barren 90 minutes.
In post-match penalties Blessings Tembo, Junior Chimodzi, Binwell Katinji, Chisomo Mpachika, Thuso Paipi, Levison Maganizo, Mike Robers, Herbert Wayekha, Yinus Sherrif and Mathews Sibale converted for Silver.
On the other hand, Kamwendo, Stanley Sanudi, Francis Mlimbika, Jabulani Linje, Alfred Manyozo, Lucky Malata, Yamikani Chester, Jafalie Chande and Flex Zulu were on target for Wanderers.
“I am really excited to win this cup,” said Silver coach Young Chimodzi.
His counterpart Yasin Osman wore a brave face but blamed the loss on lost opportunities.
“We were the better team. It is unfortunate that we did not score goals in normal time,” he said.