Mpande making his name in Rwanda
As Lusaka Dynamos was inflicting the first loss under coach Chris Kaunda, who took over as interim coach following the sacking of erstwhile coach Albert Joel Mphande, on Nkwazi, himself was enjoying a new lease of football life and his Rwandese team’s 3-0 win to give him his third consecutive victory out of the three games he has been in charge since joining the club from Nkwazi last month.
Albert Mpande is a former Lusaka Dynamos player and his success is encouraging to the club which is always happy to see its former players excel. Interestingly, with the coaching goings-on at Lusaka Dynamos and Nkwazi, chances where that LD would have faced Mpande last week but for a bizarre twist of fate.
Ironically, it was Albert Mpande who relegated Lusaka Dynamos from the MTN/FAZ Zambia Super League in 2016.
Here is some background: In October 2015, Nkwazi football club defied odds to reach the final of the Barclays Cup but lost 2-0 to Green Buffaloes under the tutelage of coach Elijah Chikwanda. His assistant at the time was Albert Mpande. Elijah Chikwanda joined Nkwazi from the Botswana Defence Force as head coach when the side was in Division One in 2014. In the league, the police outfit established themselves as title challengers finishing fifth on the MTN-FAZ Super League table – with 44 points at par with Mufulira Wanderers and 25 behind champions Zesco United – a feat the ‘Policemen’ had never managed before having been perennial relegation fighters. This achievement was huge for the said coaches considering that Nkwazi had been promoted and subsequently demoted 12 times from the top flight of the Zambian football league.
A year later in October 2016, Zesco United’s hopes of retaining the league were dented following a 1-0 defeat away to Nkwazi in a rescheduled Week 29 fixture played at Edwin Imboela Stadium. The Nkwazi coach was now Albert Mpande.
How did that happen?
On August 17, 2016 Nkwazi football club fired head coach Elijah Chikwanda and gave reasons. The coaching task was handed over to our Lusaka Dynamos veteran Albert Mpande with ex-chipolopolo star Kenneth Malitoli as the assistant. Mphande, porpularly know as ‘Coach Fergu’ wasn’t new at Nkwazi, he was there during their campaign in division one as an assistant coach to Mathews Phiri and later he was assistant to Elijah Chikwanda before being appointed as head Coach for Kafue Green Eagles.
A month later, on 15th September, Elijah Chikwanda joined then relegation-threatened Lusaka Dynamos and he became the club’s third coach in charge in the 2016 season. Earlier in March of 2016, Lusaka Dynamos had appointed Ronald Chinku as co-head coach with Perry Mutapa. When Chikwanda took over, Micheal Loftmann who was the previous senior coach became the assistant coach.
Lusaka Dynamos were eventually demoted with a game to spare after drawing 3-3 away to Nkwazi on November 19, a team Chikwanda had coached for two seasons prior to his move to the former. Mpande coached Nkwazi that day and helped relegated Lusaka Dynamos his former team. Meanwhile, in the same 2016 season, an Albert Mpande-mentored Nkwazi finished eighth with 45 points.
Consequently, on 15 December 2016 Chikwanda revealed that he would not stay on at demoted Lusaka Dynamos.
“I am now done with my stay at Dynamos. My contract with the club was only for three months,” Chikwanda said.
As mentioned by himself, Chikwanda did not last at Lusaka Dynamos. On January 19, 2017 Veteran coach Patrick ‘Big Pa’ Phiri ditched super division side Forest Rangers to join relegated Lusaka Dynamos and in the process he replaced Elijah Chikwanda. Big Pa, had joined Forest Rangers around the 8th week of the 2016 season with the Ndola side in a dismal second from bottom position but managed to help turn around their fortunes to end 9th on the log. Former Lusaka Dynamos coach Perry Mutapa, who was assistant to Phiri at Forest Rangers following his departure from LD, took over as Forest Head coach.
Chikwanda would go on and join City of Lusaka and he was assisted by among others Fewsdays Musonda another former Lusaka Dynamos coach. Lusaka Dynamos would return to the premier league through an administrative opportunity when the league was expanded.
Back at Nkwazi, the 2017 saw some exciting football at Nkwazi with Justin Shonga and Lameck Ngoma exciting fans and a lot of drama on the touchline. Soccer fans at stadia and viewers of SuperSport were accustomed to seeing Mpande animated on the touchline; the exciting coach lit the scene with his frantic and ubiquitous gestures, his trademark squats when he was pensive and shouting when issuing instructions to his players. As fate would have it, those mesmerizing antics on the touchline from Coach Albert Mpande only endured fans and management when results were good. This was the case in the Nkwazi vs LD games: Nkwazi forced a 1-1 draw against Lusaka Dynamos in April at Edwin Imboela with Nsofwa Mwansa equalising for LD and later managed the same score-line at Heroes Stadium in August. Shonga scored first and Mugalu scored a late equaliser from an Ochaya cross.
Come April 18, 2018, the Zambia Police Service dismissed Super Division side Nkwazi coach Albert Mpande and his assistants following a string of poor results. Mpande’s sacking brought the number of Super Division trainers sacked in the 2018 season that had just got underway on March 17 to three: Arena Guglielmo from Buildcon and Napsa Stars’ Linos Makwaza were the other casualties.
Interestingly, the former Lusaka Dynamos player did not take long to find another job. He switched from coaching Zambian Police to coaching Rwandese Police. He signed on the dotted line at AZAM Rwanda Premier League outfit Police FC which is based in Kibungo. It was rumoured that he had signed until the end of the season with possibility to renew it though other sources said he had been given a 2-year contract. Albert Mpande kicked off his tenure at Police FC by guiding the team to a resounding 3-0 win over Miroplast FC. He later admitted that his first priority was to build a team strong enough to compete for the league top position and trophies after beating Gicumbi 1-0 in his second game. In his third game which was this past weekend, his team won 3-0 to have some outside hopes of winning the league. It was played a day before Ochaya gave LD a late win against a Nkwazi team that featured former LD player Jubel Sakala.
In conclusion, it is worth noting that Mpande ended his playing career with a lifetime injury he suffered in 1998 while playing for French club Olympique Marseilles. He holds a UEFA B coaching licence. He also played for Lusaka Dynamos, Zanaco and Chiparamba Great Eagles in Zambia. Mpande was Chiparamba Great Eagles coach in the early 2000s and won a number of Gothia Cups and also helped nurture such players as Rabson Mcheleng’anga, Davies Nkausu, Dominic Yobe, Hichani Himoonde, William Njobvu, Fwayo Tembo and Clifford Mulenga. A number of these also played for Lusaka Dynamos. He also went on to coach K-Stars. It was during his time as youth coach that his nickname stuck: Fergu! Short for Ferguson.
It takes a very good coach to be named after the great Sir Alex Ferguson.
The Lusaka Dynamos Media team wishes one of our former players Albert Joel Mpande the best of luck in Rwanda.
Once Elite always …..
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