MIGHTY Wanderers were crowned this year's Standard Bank Knock-out Cup cham¬pions after beating Silver Strikers 2-0 at a capacity-packed Silver Stadium Saturday.
For being champions, the Nomads returned to Lali Lubani Road K7 mil¬lion richer, complete with a glittering trophy which was brought to the venue by paratroopers. The central bankers got K3 million for being the runners- up.
The win came days after the No¬mads, led by their general secretary, David Kanyenda, protested that cup organisers, the Football Association of Malawi, had made an unfair decision to stage the final at the backyard of the bankers.
Minister of Youths and Sports Enock Chihana, Super League of Ma¬lawi president Innocent Bottoman and Standard Bank's Managing Director Charles Mudiwa were some of the high-ranking officials who witnessed the final.
However, both sides looked calm in the early minutes of the first half with both sides invading each other's territory.
But, surprisingly, it was the visi¬tors who were a constant threat mid-way through the first half, with mid¬fielder Joseph Kamwendo being a potent attacking threat, especially with his trademark pin-point passes.
The Nomads came close to scor¬ing in the 24th minute through Diver¬son Chilemba, whose glancing header from a corner kick missed the target by a whisker.
They followed it up two minutes later through Kamwendo's long-range shot, which was tipped over the bar by goalkeeper Amadu Ali.
Despite featuring the entire ar¬senal which propelled the bankers to the final, the home side strug¬gled to create any meaningful at-tacks.
Their marksman Rodrick Go¬nani, who was partnered Frank Banda, could not find the key to unlock the rock-solid Nomads defence, which was marshaled by captain Foster Namwera.
However, defender Mustafa Salimu failed to put the bankers ahead in the 33rd minute when his penalty was saved by in-form Richard Chipuwa after Francis Mlimbika handled the ball in the box.
In the 40th minute, the Nomads opened their account through Vic¬tor Mpinganjira, who tapped in a Kamwendo freekick on the edge of the box.
But Silver could have re¬sponded a minute later through Gonani, whose diving header was brilliantly saved by Chipuwa.
However, in the second half, Silver recovered from their bad start as they were all over the pitch and it was just unfortunate that they could not level the scores.
Substitute Chikondi Likwem¬ba changed the pace of the game in Silver's favour as he orches¬trated lethal attacks from the heart of the pitch.
They remained a force to reck¬on with, which prompted the No¬mads to strengthen their defence 11 minutes to full time. They in-troduced Allan Kamanga and Mo¬ses Chavula for Gerald Phiri and Mpinganjira, respectively.
Chavula, who was making his first Nomads appearance after being released by South Africa's Amazulu, went on to seal the win in the 84th minute through a head¬er from Chilemba.
Wanderers' coach, Felix Fos¬ko, said he was very happy that the players followed match in¬structions.
"I told the boys to fight on from the first whistle. I am happy that they followed that," Fosko said.
His former boss at Wanderers, Franco Ndawa, described the loss as part of the game as the Nomads capitalised on his side's mistakes.
To reach the finals, Wander¬ers beat archrivals Bullets FC 4-2 on penalties while Silver thrashed Civo 4-1.