THE GREATNESS OF KALUSHA BWALYA.
– The 3 times when he rescued Zambia.
Like I said by many that when nothing new exceeds the old, the old gets retold and so is my piece of writing today.
With Zambia failing to qualify for the Afcon tournament consisting of 24 teams which is almost half the continent of Africa and i draw to old positve stories about Zambia football – The greatness of Kalusha Bwalya.
I would pick many stories but for time and space, here are my three favourite times when Kalusha Bwalya showed his greatness and came to the rescue of the nation.
Zimbabwe Vs Zambia (Rufaro Stadium).
Two months after the demise of the our national team on July 23rd in 1993, Zambia was locked in a do or die African cup qualifying encounter against neighboring Zimbabwe, a derby recently famed “The Zambezi Derby.” With only one team qualifying from group 5 which boasted Zimbabwe, South Africa, Mauritius, and Zambia leading by a point before the game and trailing one goal to nil courtesy of Bristol Rovers defender Henry Mckop’s goal which would have taken Zimbabwe a point ahead of Zambia. All hope lost and Zambia on the verge of a double tragedy of losing its team and failing to qualify for Afcon 94, Kalusha rose so high to score a header to level the game 1all in the 80th minute that secured Zambia a spot at the 1994 tournament.
Zambia vs Gabon (Independence Stadium).
April 8th, 1995.
The last game in group 5 of the 1996 Africa cup of nations qualifiers consisting Gabon, Mauritius, South Africa who became hosts, Madagascar and Seychelles who withdrew, Zambia found themselves trailing Gabon by two points on the last day of the qualification campaign. Having managed only two wins against minnows Mauritius and lost 2-1 to the Parfait Odongo led team, there was need for redemption at Independence Stadium. With a shambolic display characterizing that day’s play, the home fans had been quieted like a radio on mute, the usual Chipolopolo iyeee song unheard as many trooped out of the stadium in frustration. Kalusha took matters personally, driving forward and in the commentary of late Dennis Liwewe took a 360 degree turn then shot low to score a goal in the 83rd minute that leveled the group points to qualify the country to Afcon 1996. To this day, this remains the only moment in the history of Zambian football where the number of fans at the end of the game superseded that of those who had initially entered the stadium.
Zambia vs Liberia (Independence Stadium).
Having only garnered four points out of a possible nine after three games played and seemingly destined for a draw in the fourth game against Liberia that would have complicated Zambia’s quest for qualification, Kalusha then head coach of Zambia took matters in his own hands and made a three men substitution that included himself, Harry Milanzi and Christopher Katongo in the 68min. With the game tied zero zero in the 91st minute, Kalu took a free kick and scored from it taking Zambia within a point of the top teams and ensured we still stayed in contention for a spot at both the Africa and World cup.
With such feats and displays for mother Zambia, we could talk and hate him for whatsoever reasons justified and unjustified but none of the reasons will erase these great memories nor take away his greatness.
He earned it and it is etched forever!!!
Long Live Forever King Kalu!!!
Happy Easter Weekend!
Mbanga Irvine, Ilukui.