In a riveting display at the Nakambala Stadium, right in the centre of a giant sugarcane plantation and the state of art sugar refinery in Zambia’ sweetest town Mazabuka, Red Arrows football club soared above the hot Saturday clouds on 6 January 2024 , thrashing the stubborn FC Muza with a clean and historical 4 – 1 in a relentless battle that left home fans emotionally distressed and calling for the blood of their Head Coach.
The hero of the day was none other than Saddam Yusuf Phiri, whose stellar performance secured victory for the Airmen. With a remarkable hat-trick and at the same time servicing the midfield, Phiri showcased his prowess on the field, leaving both Arrows supporters and opponents in awe of his exceptional talent and display on the day.
The atmosphere in the stadium was charged with anticipation as fans eagerly awaited the outcome of this fierce contest putting in mind that the visitors had never beaten the home side in all competitions in their all four meetings as well as that only one or so club had ever won a match in Mazabuka. Infact, only two teams have managed to secure maximum points at Nakambala stadium in the last two seasons and truly the Airmen faced a challenging test when they visited Mazabuka.
FC Muza, known for their tenacity, persevered valiantly in the face of the Red Arrows’ onslaught, creating moments of brilliance and elegance (as they call themselves) that reverberated throughout the match even when they surely went down.Chipo Sondashi came in as good substitute, energitically and tactically proved to be the game changer for the home side, playing a key role in securing the consolation goal.
The Airmen on the other hand had their plans different to rewrite history and pushed an impressive display that subsequently paid off.
Chisi Mbewe made several substitutions in the starting IX from the previous match against Nkana, with Charles Kalumba replacing Jeban Tembo, Ciel Ebengo replacing James Chamanga, and Thomas Zulu replacing Alassane Diarra.
And in the run of play, both teams were eager to score the first goal, and Ricky Banda came close for the Airmen, forcing a corner. Ciel Ebengo replacing them took the corner and found Paul Katema, who razor bladed it, just as he did in the Nkana game, to score in the 14′ to give the visitors the lead.
Ebengo once again played his slippery trade, delivering a precise pass that sliced through the Muza defence. Unfortunately, Brain Chilimina was unable to capitalise on the opportunity shooting wide inside the box.
The Airmen maintained their attacking posture resulting in scoring their second goal on 34. Yusuf Saddam coolly controlled and superbly finished on a setup by a cutting in Ackim Mumba to secure the Airmen’s firm control of the match.
In a move to bolster support, at halftime saw Muza generously allowing fans to enter the stadium for free. Despite the increased backing from their passionate supporters, Muza found themselves helpless against the relentless assault of the Airmen. The host had emerged from the break with great determination, eager to find a goal which they did when Andrew Phiri successfully scored from close range from a Chipo Sondashi shot that Kalumba spilled off.
The match hung in the balance as Muza fought for an equaliser, while the Airmen aimed to secure their victory.
Chisi Mbewe made some tactical changes, bringing in new players to replace others on the pitch among them Chitiya Mususu replacing Ciel Ebengo, young wizard Anthony Shipanuka and Alassane Diarra replaying Ackim Mumba and Thomas Zulu respectively.
It was substitute Alassane Diarra whose Arrows blood perfectly is red; displayed exceptional skills and assisted Saddam on 83′ after outsmarting and beating his markers, setting for captain to score his second and screamer of a goal from outside the box securing a third goal for the Airmen.
The Airmen were not done yet. Chitiya Mususu had a chance to score after Diarra intelligently set him in space. He paced out and shot a curving in but the Muza custodian made a great save which unintentionally lay in for Saddam who was in the right place at the right time to nod in the half empty net on his rebound to complete his first hat trick for Red Arrows.
Speaking after the game, Coach Chisi Mbewe expressed his satisfaction with the result. He considered it a great New Year’s gift for the Air Force commander, Lt Gen Oscar Msitu Nyoni, the new Red Arrows football club Patron.
“Playing against FC Muza in Muzabuka is never easy, but the team had prepared well and executed the game plan effectively. The players followed instructions, which made play somehow easier. Muza kept their push and continued coming at us but overly, we were better today in all departments than the previous game for us to secure this sweet victory” said Chisi Mbewe.
The clash between these two teams was not just a battle on the field; it was a confirmation to the unyielding spirit of competition that fuels football rivalries and if you want – ending the elegant dynamite’s pride over the elite Airmen; 4 – 1 on their on turf.
The win is the third consecutive victory for Red Arrows with Forest Rangers up next before a well-deserved break next week.
The Airmen are now second on the league table with 35 points, one apiece with leaders Zesco United who stand at 36 points after 19 games played.