* As Mafco beat Mighty Wanderers 1-0 to reach a cup final for the first time in 10 years
* They beat Silver Strikers in 10-9 in post-match penalties to win the Presidential Cup in 2003
By Duncan Mlanjira
As Nyasa Bullets will be preparing for the second leg of the CAF Champions League away to five-time continental title champions, Mazembe in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo — having lost 0-1 at Bingu National Stadium on Sunday — focus will also be on their title defence of FDH Bank Cup as they will face Dedza Dynamos in the semifinal on Sunday.
Winners of the encounter will face Mafco, who beat Mighty Wanderers at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre on Saturday through captain Paul Ndhlovu’s powerful header from a Dan Chimbalanga corner kick — sending the Salima-based outfit in their first final in 10 years.
Stats by Fam.mw indicate that Malawi Defence Force outfit last made it to a cup final in 2013 from which they beat Silver Strikers in 10-9 in thrilling post-match penalties after a stalemate in regulation time to win the Presidential Cup.
This will be the first meeting between the Bullets and Dedza Dynamos in a cup competition and a 4th encounter in all competitions having faced them three times in TNM Super League.
They won twice and drew the other — a 2-2 stalemate in which the Bulkets came from behind twice.
It will also be a busy schedule for coach Kalisto Pasuwa in between the CAF Champions League as they will also be involved in their other title defence of the TNM Super League as they face Bangwe All Stars at Kamuzu Stadium this Wednesday.
The People’s Team booked place in last four of the FDH Bank Cup after beating Extreme FC 4-2 on post match penalties following a 1-1 stalemate in regulation time away in Lilongwe on August 5.
Meanwhile, a report by Fam.mw indicates that Mafco were more organised in their attack and defended in numbers, forcing Wanderers to rethink their approach.
Ndhlovu marshalled the defence well while Paul Phiri and David Daud controlled the midfield in the battle against Wanderers’ Felix Zulu, Gaddie Chirwa and Wisdom Mpinganjira.
Wanderers had a chance to level just before recess when Chirwa played in Christopher Kumwembe in the box but he shot wide with Mafco goalkeeper Christopher Mikuwa already beaten.
After recess, Mafco pulled out Daud who paved way for Ernest Tambe as they look to bring in fresh legs for the battle. Wanderers’ Chirwa wasted a golden opportunity when he shot wide in the 52nd minute after he was set up by Francisco Madinga.
The first substitution for the hosts came in the 67th minute as Vitumbiko Kumwenda paved way for Vincent Nyangulu and later in 72nd minute Chiukepo Msowoya and Francis Mkonda came in for Madinga and Kumwembe.
Mafco almost doubled the lead in the 82nd minute from another set piece, but Thole was equal to the job when he tipped over a powerful free kick from Chimbalanga.
The Nomads on the other hand were denied an equaliser in 87th minute when Mkonda’s effort hit the upright ending 0-1 as Mafco claimed a rare cup victory at Kamuzu Stadium in a match they started as underdogs but marched out in style with a mock parade.
In post-match interview, Wanderers coach Mark Harrison conceded having been overwhelmed by Mafco’s resilience and tactical discipline, saying: “We didn’t turn up in the first 30 minutes. We gave away a silly goal from a set piece which we should never concede.
“Second half we had 85 to 90% possession, getting into good areas, but we never created a chance worthwhile. We didn’t create enough chances. So we don’t deserve to be in the final.”
Mafco coach Pritchard Mwansa said it was a dream come true to be in the final for the first time in 10 years: “It wasn’t easy. You could see how we played. We had only one chance in the first half and we scored.
“It was just too good to watch the boys defending the goal playing good football. Wanderers came hard in the second-half.
“They were knocking on every door. But we blocked all areas. We blocked every angle. I must applaud my boys for playing according to our plan.”