When it rains in Africa some say it is a sign of good things to come, but on Saturday the rains were a bad omen for Civo United.
They suffered a 1-0 defeat to Azam Tigers, courtesy of Timothy ChitedzeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 75th minute free kick. It was a strike that broke the deadlock, the silence at the empty arena and momentarily CivoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s TNM Super League title pursuit.
Several things, including gambling in midfield fielding and a timid, and almost non-existent front line, left CivoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s championship title chase heavily compromised.
The only temporary relief for Civo was that another championship title chaser, Silver Strikers, also slipped to Mighty Wanderers by a similar margin in Lilongwe.
A hard won 3-1 triumph over Blantyre United last week, then a defeat to struggling Tigers; such has been the story of inconsistency, especially on the road for Alex Masanjala charges this season.
MasanjalaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s late introduction of regular Patrick Gunde and Dave NgÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ambi succeeded in delaying CivoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s title dream in this game that did not live to its billing.
It was a typical case of Civo dominating the game, but Tigers having the last laugh.
Tigers coach Leo MpululaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s introduction of Mapopa Msukwa, then Lumbani Munthali for Isaac Maluwa and Maxwell Mwanyongo respectively proved to be a masterstroke. The fielding of defender John Dzimbiri into defensive midfield role also minimised CivoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s midfield bite.
The first-half ended goalless in this match that featured two Onanis; Civo goalkeeper Onani Sengwa and Onani Juwayo for Tigers. Sengwa eventually saw danger inflicted by Chitedze.
Masanjala was left ruing lost chance through Raquub Milanzi and NgÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ambiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s unsuccessful attempts.
“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a big blow to our title chances as the loss reduces our maximum tally to 50 points, but we will keep on fighting,” Masanjala said in post-match interview.
In Mzuzu, Embangweni lost 4-2 to Blue Eagles while Red Lions defeated Zomba United 2-1 in other games on Saturday.