…..Moyale 1-1 Eagles
By Edwin Mbewe
MZUZU-(MaraviPost)-The Lions of Kaning’ina and Eagles from Mbalangwe Hills shared the Airtel Chezani daily bundle at Rumphi Stadium in the 1st leg of Season 6 of the Airtel top 8 cup quarterfinal.
The 2018 champions Blue Eagles FC drew the first blood in the 27th minute through Gilbert Chirwa’s stunning header connecting McDonald Lameck’s well-delivered free kick which originated 10 meters away from the line demarcating the two halves but in Moyale’s half.
Moyale Barracks could have leveled the scoreline through Prince Phiri after Maxwell Gustavo failed to communicate with goalkeeper Chakonda Majanga but his shot went off target.
The Lions kept pressing hard for an equalizer until in the 34th minute when they played two corner kicks in succession. The first corner kick by Prince Phiri was dealt with by Tonic Viyuyi while the second one by Brown Magaga ended kissing the back of the net after successfully landing on the head of their prominent and prolific attacker Gastin Simkonda who was left unmarked by Maxwell Gustavo and Jacob Robert.
In the 42nd minute, Moyale gaffer Victor Chingoka made a change, taking out Gastin Simkonda who got injured in the process of scoring the leveler for Hassan Upindi who now partnered Raphael Phiri upfront.
Eliah Kananji also replaced Jacob Robert who also got injured for Ganizani James. Referee Zebron Lengani ended the half with the teams tied at 1 goal apiece.
In the second half coaches for both teams came up with tactical changes in search of the winning goals but to no avail despite creating chances.
Andrew Juvinala replaced Maxwell Gustavo who got injured for the Eagles.
In the 47th Schumacher Kuwali could have extended the visitor’s lead from a free kick after Lovemore Jere had brought down Richard Rapson but the ball went over the bar for a goal kick.
As the game progressed the home team had a chance to take a lead but Chakonda Majanga in the Eagles’ goal produced a superb save denying Raphael Phiri’s header to kiss the back of the net.
From this juncture, the home team came wave after wave in search of the next Airtel Chezani bundle but it seems there was a poor Airtel network at Rumphi Stadium as both teams failed to purchase the bundles through My Airtel APP.
Christopher Gototo, Ranken Mwale, and Blessings Malemia replaced Laurent Banda, Tonic Viyuyi, and Schumacher Kuwali in the 67th minute. At 77th Juvinala conceded a free kick after fouling Damba close to the edge of the 18-yard box but veteran defender George Nyirenda took it poorly.
From this time all teams seemed satisfied with a draw. The match which was characterized by injuries produced three yellow cards.
Ranken Mwale for the Eagles was booked in the 90th minute for obstructing Maneno Nyoni from taking a free kick.
Lovemore Jere and Raphael Phiri were booked for a foul on Richard Rapson and kicking the ball into the net after referee Lengani had blown the whistle for offside respectively.
Blue Eagles FC and Malawi’s international defender McDonald Lameck was later voted man of the match.
After the match coach for Moyale Barracks FC Victor Chingoka attributed the result to the poor condition of the pitch at Rumphi Stadium.
“We defeated them in Superleague days ago hence we knew they would come hard on us. The condition of the pitch has also affected our play but we will prepare well for the reverse fixture in Lilongwe as the surface at Nankhaka is playable”, Chingoka said.
Blue Eagles FC assistant Coach Christopher Sibale also attributed the result to the poor condition of the pitch which led to injuries of his players including, Maxwell Gustavo and Jacob Robert.
“This is an encouraging result as we were playing away. The surface we have used today is different from ours hence it will be a different game with the critical approach as well. It was a tough game you know it is a cup game, Moyale wanted to use home-ground advantage but they failed. This year we want to bounce back and win the cup again”, said Sibale.
Blue Eagles FC last won the Airtel Top 8 in 2018 after defeating FCB Nyasa Big Bullets FC 1-0 at Bingu National Stadium with a lone goal from Stuart Mbunge from the spot after Yamikani Fodya fouled Gilbert Chirwa in the dying minutes of the second half.
The Policemen, however, missed the next edition as they finished out of the top 8 in the TNM Superleague.
In 2022 Blue Eagles FC were booted out by Mighty Mukuru Wanderers FC after a 2-0 defeat at Kamuzu Stadium on 11th December 2022 in the Semifinals after they reached the stage with a convincing 5-2 goal aggregate over Dedza Dynamos FC.
Chiukepo Msowoya and Yamikani Chester scored the Wanderers’ goals in both halves in the 16th and 55th minute respectively with assists from Misheck Botoman and Felix Zulu.
The reverse fixture between Moyale Barracks FC and Blue Eagles FC will be played at Nankhaka Stadium in the Capital Lilongwe on 29th October 2023.