LOBAMBA – Malawian striker Diversion Mlozi stepped up from the bench to inspire his side to a crucial 2-1 win over a skeletal Manzini Wanderers on Sunday.
The free-flowing MTN League encounter was played at the Somhlolo National Stadium yesterday afternoon.
The result means, Malanti have now jumped back to the 10th spot, only a place above the relegation murky waters.
He was introduced by his countryman Charles Manda almost midway through the second half and Wanderers were firmly in control, leading 1-0. The Manzini based outfit was missing a number of regular players. There was no Sandile ‘Nkomishi’ Ginindza, no Gcina ‘Kwere’ Mazibuko, no Sandile ‘Theo’ Motsa, Sidumo Shongwe, Sihle Ndaba and Lwazi ‘Shana’ Maziya. Zimbabwean defender Chimwanda Takawira started on the bench, as the Manzini giants eye the SwaziBank Cup final on 12 April against Moneni Pirates.
Wanderers were obviously cautious, as most of these players are on two yellow cards. A third card yesterday would have ensured they sit out the final.
Despite fielding basically unknowns, the maroon and white ensemble was still the better team in the opening half and could have gone for the break leading by at least two goals. Striker Bobby Carrington was guilty of missing two gilt edged scoring opportunities that could have seen the hub giants wrap up the game in the opening half.
On the first occasion after beating a poor offside trap and came face to face with Nhlanhla Gwebu, he unbelievably shot straight at Gwebu’s hands. Carrington was back moments later but this time, instead of rattling the net, his shot sailed way over the bar. Those were the game’s changing moments. Zimbabwean midfielder Tawanda Chikuku had opened the scoring for his team with about 20 minutes played.
The lanky midfielder rattled the net from the spot kick after Malanti defender Bhekisisa Shongwe had handled in the area. Referee Mbongiseni Fakudze was spot on to award the penalty.
In the second half, Malanti raised the tempo of the game in a bid to even matters. However, they still lacked the cutting edge up front until Mlozi’s introduction. It was not long before the speedy striker made his presence felt. He chased a long ball, prevented it from going out of play challenged the Wanderers goalkeeper Wenzile Khumalo, who then tripped him from behind. Again Fakudze was spot on to award the penalty. Mcolisi Mkhontfo rattled the net with a booming shot from the resultant kick.
Ten minutes from time, Lindokuhle Fakudze completed the remarkable comeback when he netted the winner with a finely taken shot inside the area.
(At Somhlolo National Stadium
Mkhontfo 62nd, Lindokuhle 80th
Tawanda 20th pen
Malanti – Nhlanhla, Siyabonga, Mancoba, Bhekisisa, Sifiso, Mcolisi, Teboho, Sabelo, Dumsani (Siyabonga), Thokozani (Mlozi) and Lindokuhle
Wanderers – Wenzile, Ayanda, Menzi, Mancoba (Chimwanda), Menzi, Mfundo, Siyabonga, Tawanda, Bobby, Ali and Sifiso
Referee: Mbongiseni Fakudze (good game)
Man of the Match: Mcolisi Mkhontfo may have been chosen as the best player by the selectors but Diversion Mlozi’s contribution in the game can hardly be ignored. He came from the bench to change the tide with his incisive runs that troubled Wanderers.