Rangers, Arrows in semis

Red Arrows Football Club

Zanaco 1 Rangers 1 (Rangers win 3-1 on penalties)
Arrows 3 Assembly 1
NCHANGA Rangers and Red Arrows yesterday booked their tickets to the semi-finals of the K2 million-rich 2013 Barclays Cup football tournament scheduled for October 26 at Arthur Davies stadium in Kitwe.
Rangers came from behind to beat a 10-man Zanaco on penalties to join Arrows in the semi-final of this lucrative competition.
This match, which had to be decided on penalties, saw Zanaco taking the lead in the 51st minute through Moses Phiri who scored from the spot after Rangers defender Levy Zulu handled inside the box.
But the bankers relaxed with Steve Phiri, who came in for an injured Roderick Kabwe in the 49th minute, being sent off by referee Janny Sikazwe for accumulating two yellow cards after faking an injury and later refusing treatment from his team doctors.
Rangers’ persistence to snatch a goal paid off deep into stoppage time when Zanaco defenders led by captain Michael Mwape, substitute Patrick ‘the animal’ Kasunga levelled the scores with a well-executed penalty, beating Racha Kola in goal.
As per this year’s Barclays Cup rules, the match went straight into penalties with Phiri converting the only kick for Zanaco, while Mwelwa Sakala and Samson Chilupe had their attempts saved by keeper Toaster Nsabata as Dominic Yobe blasted over the bar.
The first half saw Rangers starting on a good fast note with Chilufya hitting the crossbar with a header as early as the 12th minute as Martin Daka did the same eight minutes later off a Zulu cross.
Striker Musonda Mwape was the main culprit for Zanaco failing to properly connect high balls on three occasions inside the box owing to removal in the 33rd minute for an effective Davies Mwape.
Rangers got their win thanks to Emmanuel Phiri, Kasunga and George Chilufya to send the team’s supporters into wild celebrations as the players lifted coach, Fighton Simukonda shoulder high.
Simukonda commended his players for putting up a good fight, while Zanaco assistant coach Aggrey Chiyangi accused the referee for poor officiating which also led to him being sent off.
In an earlier kick-off, Arrows sealed their place in the last four after recording an easy victory off Division One South side, National Assembly with coach George Lwandamina charging that his team is ready for any opponent.
Shadreck Malambo opened the scoresheet with a powerful shot inside the box in the 26th minute after a well-connected Evans Musonda header.
Following the goal, Assembly coach George Kapembwa made an instant substitution bringing on experienced Timothy Mbewe for Alick Tembo.
But Arrows doubled their advantage in the 42nd minute when Lubinda Mundia powered home a thunderbolt past keeper Philip Banda and the net.
Assembly tried to come back into the game in the second half and their efforts paid off in the 79th minute when Evans Mwanza reduced the deficit with a scrambled goal after Danny Munyau had sipped a Jacob Milanzi initial shot.
And Assembly’s hopes of getting an equaliser to take the match to the wire was dealt a blow when Patrick Musonda, who came in for Stanley Nshimbi in the 75th minute, put icing on the cake with a juicy header past Banda off a Joseph Zimba teasing cross in the 90th minute to put out any hopes for penalty shoot-outs.
Lwandamina was full of praise for his players for putting up a good show and remaining composed throughout the match.
“It was a tough match but I am happy the players remained composed despite playing under difficult conditions. We are now waiting to see how our next opponent will be for we are not scared but ready to face any team that will come our way,” he said.
Kapembwa blamed Kabwe referee, Wisdom Chewe for intimidating his side saying the officiating greatly contributed to the defeat.
“How can you win a match which is already predetermined? The fourth official-Roddrick Ngandu was always on our bench threatening us. It’s like there is unfair treatment between the upper and lower teams”, he said.