Holders Be Forward Wanderers yesterday produced champions’ stuff as they came from behind to beat Silver Strikers 2-1 in the 2018 TNM Super League opener at Silver Stadium in Lilongwe.
While last season the Bankers were unbeaten in more than 20 games and only lost to Red Lions, this time they have lost in the opening match, raising questions on their preparedness for the title race.
Yet in the countdown to the re-launch match, the Bankers were tipped to be were chided for their last weekend dismal performance in Chifundo Charity Shield, when they lost to Silver and Kamuzu Barracks.favourites while the Nomads
The Bankers thought they would have another easy ride over the Nomads after striker Mphatso Phillimon’s 20th minute strike.
But the Nomads came back from recess a changed side, and within six minutes they had equalised and scored the winner through Peter Wadabwa’s brace.
New-catch Phillimon, who was signed from Blue Eagles netted from a rebound after goalkeeper William Thole failed to deal with his headed first attempt, which had come off the upright.
Silver went on to dominate the first-half, but were unable to add to their tally when Phillemon and fellow attacker Binwell Katinji had chances.
Wanderers stormed into the second-half with a transformed mentality. They were more aggressive than Silver in the midfield while their strikers Esau Kanyenda and Wadabwa were all over Bankers’ defence.
The pressure paid dividends on the 51st minute, when Wanderers levelled through Wadabwa, whose curled shot arrowed into the top corner and proved too much for goalkeeper Brighton Munthali.
Silver, whose trademark passing game was seemingly disrupted by rains that started after the recess, struggled to recover from the poor second-half start.
Wanderers led in the 55th minute, when Wadadwa headed in an in-swinging cross. The stadium broke into a massive roar as the Wanderers faithful, who were quiet, resurrected into full life.
With five minutes left to the final whistle, Wanderers suffered a setback after referee Leo Ngoleka showed midfielder Enerst Tambe a red card for a second bookable offence.
But the Nomads were able to hold off any Silver comeback with resolute defending orchestrated by Lucky Malata and company.
Silver team manager Francis Songo blamed the two goals on the rains.
“It was difficult for us to cope, especially when it started raining. However, that cannot be an excuse because we had chances to win the match,” he said.
Nomads coach Yasin Osman praised his charges for responding to half-time pep talk.
“We were slow to react, especially on second balls. I told the players to improve on that and they were better in the second-half,” he said.
In Mzuzu, new-entrants Nchalo United produced the upset of the day, beating Mzuzu University (Mzuni) 1-0 at Mzuzu Stadium.
Ishmael Ziyeme struck the lone-goal of the match as the Lower Shire rookies announced their return to the top-flight league.
Nchalo United coach Charles Manda thanked his charges for playing as instructed.
“I knew that Mzuni will come hard on us and I told my boys to attack from the start. It is good that we have collected full points away. This is a good start,”he said.
Mzuni assistant coach McNebat Kadzuwa said they lost concentration.
But it was not the same story for TN Stars who got a baptism of fire as they were walloped 4-1 by Blue Eagles at their own backyard Kasungu Stadium.
John Malidadi Jnr scored a brace while Dennis Nandolo and Gregory Nachipo scored the other two goals. John Maludzi scored the consolation for TN Stars.
Another new-entrant Karonga United held Azam Tigers to a goalless draw at Karonga Stadium while Red Lions beat Dwangwa United 2-0 at Chitowe in Dwangwa, Nkhotakota.