End of the road. Reigning champions Mighty Wanderers were on Saturday booted out of the Presidential Cup by Super League rookies Bvumbwe Research 2-1 in a richly exhilarating contest at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre.
And as the Nomads were singing blues at the old arena, Silver Strikers also suffered a similar shock defeat at the hands of Zomba-based non-leaguers Complex Madrid at the Zomba Community Centre ground.
It was an afternoon when the Nomadsâ€™ luck finally ran out. A sunlit winter afternoon when their campaign to win the Presidential honours for the third time, came to a heartbreaking and cruel end.
The strong-willed Bvumbwe were simply imperious in a pulsating contest that shredded the nerves of the spectators, in particular the Nomads faithful who left the stadium with their heads bowed in disappointment.
Bvumbwe drew first blood in the 16th minute through a penalty awarded after Foster Namwela had handled in the box and Mayeso Mphanje did the rest to perfection by coolly converting the spot-kick.
Bvumbwe would have gone two up a few minutes later, but were denied by the woodwork.
The Nomads drew level in the 38th minute when Diverson Chilemba simply tapped in a fumbled ball by goalkeeper Ernest Kakhobwe following a well curled cross from Alfred Manyozo Jnr.
But with two minutes before the interval, Gift Kwanyasa hammered Bvumbweâ€™s winner with a 25-metre drive that squirmed past Chipuwa, to send ganyu fans into frenzyâ€”it was a beauty, that is for sure!
Sensing danger, the Nomads stepped up the tempo in the second half in which they introduced Anthony Banda and Gerald Phiri Jnr for ineffective Innocent Dzimbiri and Innocent Jere respectively.
Buoyed by revitalised midfielder Joseph â€˜Shakiraâ€™ Kamwendoâ€™s exhibition of classic display, the Nomads kept Bvumbwe on the backfoot and created a plethora of chances, but sadly, failed to make them count, the notable culprit being Banda who missed two clear chances with only â€˜keeper Kakhobwe at his mercy.
Game over? Yes! And it was the end of the road for the defending champions.
Bvumbwe Research coach Bob Mpinganjira said he was happy with the win.
“My boys played a grand game, they gave out their best, but weâ€™ll not get carried away with the win,” said Mpinganjira, who was unceremoniously dismissed by the Nomads two seasons ago.
In Zomba, Complex Madrid displayed a spirited performance to boot out Super League defending champions Silver 2-1.
Barely seconds after coming in from the bench, Aiko Maluwa opened the scoresheet with a thunderous strike from 20 metres to give Complex Madrid the lead.
However, four minutes later, Silver cancelled the lead through another substitute Green Harawa with a thumping header following Peter â€˜Pidoâ€™ Pindaniâ€™s well taken corner kick.
Maluwa got on the scoresheet again when he struck Complexâ€™s winner with a fine connection following a cross from Stanley Mhango.
The Bankers, who have never won the Presidential Cup since its inception, were dealt a body blow in the 71st minute by referee Dennis Ngulube for elbowing an opponent.
Complex Madridâ€™s coach Harrison Chiunda was over the moon following the win.
“I told you that we are going to spring a surprise in this game. I feel like crying and Iâ€™m at a loss for words,” said Chiunda.
In Mzuzu, Big Bullets beat Rumphi-based Ngâ€™onga 3-0 to qualify for the last 16. Dalitso Siliva, Gabadini Mhango and George Nyirenda were on target for the Peopleâ€™s Team.
Playing earlier on at Kamuzu Stadium, Red Lions survived a big scare from Bangwe-based Under-20 FMB League side Sporting Leopards whom they beat 6-5 in post-match penalties after a 1-1 draw in regulation time.