Nyasa Big Bullets Reserves are the champions of the Chitetezo Mbaula Southern Region Football Association (SRFA) Premier League title after edging title rivals Ntopwa FC on goal difference after the two sides played out a goaless draw decider .
Both sides have tied on 96 points from 42 games but after the stalemate at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre, Bullets Reserves have found solace in a 90-goal difference against Ntopwa’s 53.
Bullets chief executive officer Fleetwood Haiya yesterday could not comment on their prospects of having both their main and reserve sides in the top-flight league.
But he told The Nation over a week ago that they are tempted to let their reserve side play in the Super League in the 2019 season as “we will make a recommendation to the board to consider allowing the reserve side to get into the elite league”.
Yesterday, Bullets Reserves, who are unbeaten in 28 games since they lost to Changalume Barracks in the first round, technically dominated the match, enjoying possession and having 10 corners against Ntopwa’s four but they were guilty of failing to convert the numerous chances they had into goals.
Reserves had their best chance 10 minutes to time when top golden-boot winner Hassan Kajoke (38 goals) dribbled past Ntopwa’s defenders Joseph Balakasi and Chikumbutso Banda close to the 18 yard box, but struck the ball against goalkeeper Blessings Lipenga in a man-to-man situation.
They had another near-miss two minutes later when Gift Jana headed wide a diagonal free-kick from Patrick Mwaungulu.
As the clock ticked away, the game turned into Ntopwa’s favour. In fact, they could have easily broken the Reserves hearts and emerged champions had their captain Levi Makoko not squandered their hard-to-miss scoring opportunity six minutes before the final whistle.
He received a mouthwatering cross from Mphatso Abraham near the goal-post but, with Reserves goalkeeper Elias Missi already beaten, he failed to slot the ball into the empty net.
“We wasted a lot of opportunities and this gave us pressure. However, I am happy that we did not concede and we have taken the ultimate glory. We deserve the title and I thank my charges for delivering the goods,” said Reserves coach Enos Chatama after the match.
On his part, Ntopwa owner and team manager Isaac Jomo Osman, whose side lost 0-3 to Reserves in the first round, said he had no hard feelings after missing the title by a whisker. He thanked his players for putting up a gallant fight.
He also praised his team’s coach Leo Mpulula, describing him as “the best coach in the country” for helping the team to take the title battle down to the wire.
In Division One, Sable Farming beat Ciso FC 3-2 in another decider to take the ultimate glory.
SRFA chairperson Raphael Humba said they will have a prize presentation ceremony on February 4 at a venue to be announced later.
The league sponsors United Purpose (UP), through their marketing manager Liviness Msafu, said they have been impressed with the administration of the competition, which is named after one of their products Chitetezo Mbaula.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) first vice-president James Mwenda, who was accompanied by executive member Daudi Ntanthiko, thanked the sponsors for the support.