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Arrows are ABSA Cup kings 

INCOMING Zambian champions Red Arrows have been crowned 2024 ABSA Cup kings after beating Kabwe Warriors 2-1 in an electric final played at Heroes Stadium in Lusaka. 

Goals from striker Ricky Banda and Malian international Alasane Diarra gifted the Airmen the K800, 000-rich ABSA Cup, their second in the history of the competition. 

The final, watched by President Hakainde Hichilema, who was the guest of honour, produced some intriguing moments from the first whistle with the Airmen grabbing the lead just 25 seconds of the first half. 

ABSA Cup top scorer Banda stunned Kabwe Warriors with the fastest goal in the history of the ABSA Cup final after benefitting from Diarra’s assist. 

Banda almost doubled the Airmen’s lead in the 11th minute but was unfortunate as goal keeper Scott Ngokene produced a fine save to deny the Arrows lethal man from completing his brace early in the game. 

Ngokene was once again called to task in the 15th minute and denied Ciel Ebengo from doubling Arrows lead with his low strike. 

Warriors first dangerous attempt came in the 18th minute through Godfrey Binga who came close to snatching the equaliser. However, The Congolese striker was unlucky as he sent his shot wide. 

Left back Ocean Mushure had his chance to level the scores for Warriors who had dominated the last quarter of the first half. The Zimbabwean international was also unfortunate to send his left footed shot wide. 

Warriors were punished for their clumsy finishing in the dying minutes of the first stanza when Malian international Diaara doubled the lead for the Airmen with a sublime shot.

In the second half, Warriors were rewarded for their dominance in the early stages as Godfrey Binga managed to pull one goal back. 

The goal motivated Warriors to push for the equaliser which almost came in the 53rd minute when Binga tried his luck with a long range shot which was saved by Charles Kalumba. 

The Airmen were able to protect their one goal lead to win their second ABSA Cup crown after their first in 2013. 

The win cheered Arrows coach Chisi Mbewe who admitted to becoming proud of his boys for their dedication to remain unbeaten in the last 18 games to win the ABSA Cup and the league where they need just a point to be declared champions. 

Warriors coach Numba Mumamba said losing the final was disappointing but he was proud of his team for putting up a spirited fight in a final which could have gone either way. 

Arrows also dominated the individual awards as striker Banda and Diarra claimed the Golden Boot and the player of the tournament respectively while Nchanga Rangers goal keeper Victor Chabu scooped the Golden glove.

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