By BENEDICT TEMBO
Hundred of fans yesterday failed to enter Lusaka’s Woodlands Stadium as Forest Rangers today grabbed the 2023 Absa Cup after anhilating MUZA in the final.
Ticket carrying fans, including those carrying VVIP tickets including some journalists were hugely disappointed to find gates locked as there was no more space in the stadium.
Some angry fans chanted “Kamanga must go.” The final was initially scheduled for National Heroes Stadium last Saturday but was postponed to yesterday.
Forest banked K700,000 while MUZA drove back to Mazabuka with their now famous Rosa Bus with K350,000. Beaten twice in the MTN Super League this season, Forest got the sweetest revenge against MUZA.
In a match watched by President Hakainde Hichilema, Forest pressed high and gave no chance to MUZA. The foresters got an early reward for their hunger for goals when they got a goal in the 16th minute courtesy of an goal by defender Chanda Chileshe from a Dieugo Apanane cross.
There was miscommunication between goalkeeper Monga Ndala who had moved out of his area and Chileshe as the later intended to pass the ball but shot into an empty net.
Forest maintained their momentum and got the second goal through hard working midfielder Amanu Moro in the 51st minute.
VAR was put to the test for the first time in Zambia and probably in Southern Africa and Moro’s goal was annulled due to an infringement on a MUZA player earlier.
On the day MUZA looked a pale shadow of the team they have been this season, they got punished by Quadri Kola with the second goal on 63rd minute.
Kola’s goal all but sealed the famous victory for Forest to give them something to smile about in the 2022-2023 season which winds up next weekend.
In this final of firsts, the match was ably handled by Egyptian crew of Amin Omer who was at the centre while his compatriots Mahamoud Abouelregal and Ahmad Hossam Tata were the first and second assistants respectively.
Sam Guezzaz of Egypt and Ghanaian Daniel Nilayi Laryea were the video assistant referees.
Forest midfielder Shadreck Malambo, introduced in the 27th minute following the forced substition of Samuel Sikaonga made personal history by becoming the first players to win the Absa Cup with three different teams.
Malambo first won it with Red Arrows in 2013 and later with Nkana in 2018.
MUZA coach Lameck Banda who turned up in a three-piece suit said Forest won because theyvgot the much needed goals.
Banda said Forest were the better team of the day as they were technically superior.
His opposite number Ian Bakala said his players executed what they had planned.
“We talked about it. We said if it is not the league, then it is the cup,” Bakala said.
Despite having his goal overturned, Moro deservedly got the man-of-the-match prize and pocketed K150,000 for his efforts.
“For me, it is my second game playing against Muza, I beat them while with Lumwana Radiants,” Moro said
He said Forest will now push to play in the Champions League in 2024.
Forest vault guard Daniel Mutshinemu was voted the best goalkeepe of the tournament and got K25,000.
And forward MoyelaLubamba capped an eventful afternoon for the Mukula boys by bagging the top scorer of the tournament award.
Lubamba became K25,000 richer.