A SECOND-HALF blitz from an all-firing Red Arrows yesterday blew away Nchanga Rangers in this exciting 2013 Barclays Cup final played before a capacity crowd to lift their first ever title in eight years.
As Red Arrows coach George Lwandamina was savouring his first major title as the airmen coach, Chipolopolo coach Patrice Beaumelle was left sweating on the injury of creative midfielder Bruce Musakanya, who limped off after just 24 minutes from a suspected recurrence of an hamstring injury.
More accolades followed Arrows with Lwandamina getting the coach-of-the-tournament award to pocket K10, 000 while player-marker Stanley Nshimbi was voted player-of-the-tournament to get K5, 000.
Arrows put their name on Barclays Cup winners list that has been dominated by Zesco United who have won the competition three times followed by Power Dynamos on titles and Napsa Stars having won it last year.
After a goalless first half, Rangers emerged from the tunnels quickest and when the game resumed, they took just seven minutes to go ahead and the goal came from a highly unlikely source in the form of Martin Daka.
Daka stabbed home Rangers lead after a failed clearance following good work from strikers Bornwell Mwape and Alex Ng’onga to leave Arrows reeling from a slow second half start.
‘Down but not out’ was Arrows’ situation and they did not require any reminding on the need to win this game with first half substitute Lubinda Mundia heading in the equaliser from close range after a pin-point cross from Chipinka Musolo in the 59th minute as airmen use of wings in the second half started to pay dividends.
Arrows again exposed Rangers frailties at the back with as hardworking Danny Sibanda passed neatly to an unmarked Mundia who easily crossed to an onrushing Patrick Musonda who scored with cheek to send the partisan home crowd into wild celebrations as they smelt the cup remaining at Nkoloma stadium.
Rangers, realising the cup was slipping off their grasp decided to up their temple with Mwape in particular making his presence felt but if Musonda goal was cheeky, then the third and killer was with audacity.
With just two minutes left on the clock, Philip Sikwese was brought into the fray for Musonda, and after Sibanda beat Louis Musonda with a deft touch, he raced into the box and crossed low and with Nchanga Rangers goalkeeper Toaster Nsabata failing to properly clear, Sikwese scored with a back heel to the anger of Rangers coach Fighton Simukonda who knew it was all over for his side.
Whereas the second half was an exciting four goal thriller, the first half was more of a dull affair with the two sides restricted to few chances which were all wasted though Arrows had the better of them.
Musakanya had the better share of the few chances that came Arrows’ way, twice shooting tamely from close range in the eighth and 15th minutes to allow keeper Nsabata to pick up easily to the disappointment of the Arrows fans desperate for a goal.
Arrows only other chance in the first half fell to Danny Sibanda who after been fed cleverly by Musakanya chose power rather than placement when he had acres of space to make a killing from the opportunity.
Rangers themselves had their own anxious moments heightened in the 18 minute when Alex Ng’onga curled narrowly wide from close range before Mwape shot weakly from close range.
As referee Gladys Lengwe blew the final whistle, Red Arrows players darted to their supporters a dejected band of Nchanga Rangers looked on as the wait for trophy in Chingola will wait on.
Meanwhile, the Zambia Under-20 team yesterday put up a morale boosting and dominant showing over the Under-17 counterparts in a curtain raiser match of the 2013 Barclays Cup final between Red Arrows and Nchanga Rangers.
Spencer Sauti scored the only goal as coach Oswald Mutapa side gained a morale booster win ahead of the COSAFA Youth Championship which starts on December 6 in Maseru, Lesotho.