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Inside Monday’s Legends Blantyre derby

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Mabedi’s cheeky strike from the spot. Fischer’s mileage and deliveries. Gona’s gloves and reflexes.

Bullets Legends rolled back the years on Monday afternoon when they took on Mighty Wanderers Legends in a throwback Blantyre derby which recorded a 1-1 draw in normal time and 2-3 on post-match penalties in favour of the Nomads who were crowned the CIC Legends Cup winners at Kamuzu Stadium.

Off the bench, striker Heston Munthali put Bullets ahead wrapping up what was a decorated team move with a decent goal late in the second half. In stoppage time Victor Nyirenda powered a header past Vincent Gona who had been sensational on the day. And the derby had to be decided through penalties.

What happened

From both sides, there were a lot of familiar faces which made such a rare intriguing show to the fans who despite Monday’s rainy weather turned up massively. The former players and the fans wore a smiles that said they were happy to see each other again at the venue holding their greatest memories.

While Robert Ng’ambi, Fundi Akidu and Gona started for The People’s Team, Joseph Kamwendo, James Sangala and Gerald Phiri Snr were in the starting XI for the Nomads.

It had rained heavily for about an hour before the kick-off and for most of the opening minutes, both teams struggled to move the ball on a water-logged turf.

Showing streetwise Bullets Legends still found a way to boss the game. With his trademark runs and deliveries Fischer Kondowe, popular with fans, proved to be the Nomads’ biggest problem. Still wearing his beloved number 2 shirt, Anong’a looked the fittest on the pitch and created so many chances which were not taken.

Striker Sankhani Nyirenda tired the Nomads’ defence with his runs which were backed up by his huge physique and managed decent attempts on target but none went past the goalkeeper Valence Kamzere.

Mapopa Msukwa got his well-taken volley blocked before Kondwani Kumwenda’s powerful header was cleared off the goal line towards the half-hour mark.

Given the frightening Bullets start to the tie Bob Mpinganjira, head coach for the Nomads Legends, was forced to make a triple change which turned things up for his side. Wearing the armband on the day, Kamwendo started to lead a series of attacks on us. From range, he had tested Gona with a shot that had a lot of power in it but the ‘keeper still proved that his reflexes had not changed with a top-notch save.

Despite their late push for a goal, the first half would only end goalless. For a longer time after the restart, a deadlock would remain until Munthali scored a beautiful goal to make it 1-0 in the last quarter of the match.

When it increasingly looked like Munthali had scored a winner, Vincent Nyirenda jumped high to beat Gona with a fine header following Kamwendo’s inviting delivery into the area in stoppage time, taking the tie to penalties.

There was always going to be one winner on the day, 3-2 the penalties ended in favour of the blue side of Blantyre.

Highlights

It was unfortunate the turf was wet and sometimes unplayable but that did not stop the former stars from shining once more. There were a lot of fine performances on the day and all one could do was to sit and enjoy.

The technique Msukwa applied to connect well a Kondowe cross with a volley was super. So was Kamwendo’s long-range effort in the second half. Gona kept the sticks jealously and showed fans why he is the goalkeeper’s trainer for the Malawi champions, but so was Simplex Nthala for the Nomads who shone much in the penalty shootouts.  And there were moments of pure skill from both sides as our former captain and now Malawi senior men’s team coach, Mabedi, could still chest it down and pass it well like before. Known for his impeccable record with penalties, the Flames coach produced a cheeky one on Monday, sending Nthala the wrong way. A great display from Rafiq Mussa for the Nomads as well as from Kumwenda for Bullets.

There were so many performances to clap hands for.

What coach Mzee Jossam said after the derby

“It was a difficult match. One big thing that has happened is that the rains destroyed play. You could see it was not good on the pitch. We could have had a good game if the pitch was okay and the fans could have watched a very good match.

“The boys are not finished, they are okay. You just need to give them a lot of games. They are retiring while they still have power. Look at Fischer, look at Joseph Kamwendo; they are still good,” said Jossam.

Next

As coach Mzee mentioned in his post-match interviews, Bullets Legends will be in action soon as they now look to play legends from the central region next.

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