Mighty Mukuru Wanderers have laboured to a 1-0 victory over Red Lions at Balaka Stadium to book a place in the Castel Challenge Cup quarter-finals.
Forward Gaddi Chirwa headed in the precious goal in the 69th minute from a corner kick, to end the deadlock.
Though relegated from the TNM Super League, the Zomba-based soldiers managed to match the Nomads pound-for-pound for a good part of the match, frustrating the visitors’ efforts with reckless abandon.
Wanderers on the other hand, had to use their abundance talent to try and unlock the Malawi Defence Force outfit defence.
In the seventh minute, Wanderers forward Vincent Nyangulu missed in a one-on-one situation with his former teammate Nenani Juwaya in Red Lions goals.
In 24th minute fullback Stanley Sanudi did some good work on the left wing, but his delivery into the box passed the goal mouth, begging for someone to finish off.
Red Lions had their first chance through veteran striker Deus Nkutu who had his powerful shot saved by William Thole in goals for Wanderers.
A minute later Wanderers captain Sanudi’s decided to take matters into his own hands but his shot hit the woodwork.
In the 25th minute Juwaya saved Lions with an acrobatic feat to deny Lawrence Chaziya’s header.
The Nomads went on to waste another golden opportunity in first half added on time, as Mphatso Kamanga blasted his shot over on the edge of the box with Juwaya already beaten.
Red Lions were dealt a blow after their captain Gibson Nkhonjera got injured while trying to block Nyangulu shot and had to be replaced by Charles Manondo.
The soldiers made another change at half time, bringing in Brown Gondwe for Mike Kaziputa.
Wanderers introduced Vitumbiko Kumwenda for Francisco Madinga in the 63rd minute.
The Nomads finally broke the deadlock as Gaddi caught Red Lions defence flat footed to head home from a corner kick.
The goal for Nomads breathed a life in their attack.
On the other it was frustration on the part of the soldiers who had held their own for a good part of the game.
Referee Kasten Mailosi ended the match with the soldiers still yet to come to terms with how they let the Nomads caught them off-guard to claim the goal.
Red Lions assistant coach Chifundo Masapula in post-match interview faulted his charges for failing to utilise their chances.
“That’s how football is. We had chances we did not utilise them. They had their chance and they utilised it,” he said.
Though through to the quarter-finals, Wanderers coach Mark Harrison bemoaned the Nomads missed opportunities.
“The game should have been finished a long time ago.
“We had seven good chances in the first half which I counted.
“It’s been a problem the whole season,” he said.
The Nomads join Chitipa United and Ekwendeni Hammers who are already in the last eight.