By McLloyd Kudzingo
Mighty Mukuru Wanderers are through to the Castel Challenge Cup quarterfinals after recording a 1-nil victory over Red Lions at Balaka Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Wanderers started the game on a very high note creating a number of scoring opportunities but failed to convert them into goals with Vincent Nyanguru and Lawrence Chaziya among the culprits.
The home side who were on the back foot for a good part of the first half, came the closest to scoring in the 24th minute when Deus Mkutu’s strike outside the 18-yard box was fumbled by Wanderers goalkeeper William Thole.
In the second half, Red Lions came a changed side after the introduction of Brown Gondwe who came in to replace Mike Kaziputa in the 52nd minute.
Gondwe could have put his side ahead in the 59th minute when his shot missed the upright by a whisker.
On the other hand, Wanderers replaced Vitumbiko Kumwenda with Fransisco Madinga and Chiukepo Msowoya came in for Vincent Nyanguru.
The Nomads then broke the deadlock in the 69th minute through Gaddie Chirwa who headed home from a well taken corner-kick by Madinga.
Red Lions tried their best to find an equalizer, but the Nomads led by Lawrence Chaziya and Miracle Gabeya in defense, managed to defend the lead up to the final whistle.
It was another painful day for the Zomba-based soldiers this season as they have exited the cup after also being relegated from the TNM Super League.
Speaking after the match Wanderers coach Mark Harrison congratulated his boys for the victory but bemoaned missed opportunities by his side.
“We played very well today and we could have finished the game at half time. My boys could have scored three or four goals by half time but they failed and this has been a very big problem on our side. We had seven clear goal chances but failed to utilise them,” he said.
Red Lions Assistant Coach Chifundo Masapula accepted defeat and said they did all their best in training but Wanderers came strong as well.
He said, “It was a good game, they had a number of chances and we had our chances as well. We failed to defend the corner-kick and they utilised that chance to punish us.”
The Castel Challenge Cup is a National Knockout Cup organised by the Football Association of Malawi (FAM) and sponsored by Castel Malawi.
The K1 billion three-year sponsorship has seen Castel pumping in over K320 million towards the cup this year alone.