Gibby Mbasela – The dribbling genius with a table cut
He was born on 24th October 1962 in kitwe, the mining town on the Copperbelt. He appeared first in the Zambian super league with Kalulushi Modern Stars of kalulushi district after switching from a second-tier Zambian league team called Big Coke of kitwe.
His real names were Biggie Mbasela, the name Gibby Mbasela came when a newspaper report carried an error to his first name, it wrote Gibby Mbasela instead of Biggie Mbasela and this was a name he would be known with throughout his career.
In 1987 he moved to Mufulira wanderers where he just spent one season before he made a return to Kalulushi modern Stars and again made a move when he signed for Nkana in 1990 where he made a deadly partnership with Kenneth ‘bubble’ Malitoli, a partnership which helped Nkana win the 1990 league.
He was part of the Nkana team which lost the Africa club champions cup now CAF champions league to JS Kabylie of Algeria on post-match penalties at independence stadium in Lusaka. Among other trophies he won with Nkana include the charity shield, independence cup, heroes, and unity cup.
It was at the 1992 Africa cup of nations when he produced a pulsating performance that made him secure a move outside Zambia. A tournament at which Zambia bowed in the quarter-finals after going down one-nil in extra time to ivory coast.
His first stop was in Germany when he signed for union Berlin which was by then in the second division which is now is playing in the Germany top-flight league the Bundesliga. He spent a season and a half at the Germany club with his first five games been the talking point as he scored four times. He ended his stints at the German side with 17 goals from 44 appearances. His next stop was Tunisia where he joined Esperance where he just spent a season and returned home to rejoin Kalulushi Modern Stars.
Mbasela was first called to the national team by colonel Brightwell Banda and made his debut in the friendly game against Malawi when Zambia traveled to that country. He was however surprisingly not able to cement a permanent place in the national team, he used to be in and out of the setup and this made him miss the 1988 Seoul Olympics and the 1993 plane crash disaster (a blessing in disguise).
He was part of the 1991 Zambian squad which won the CECAFA tournament after beating Kenya 2-0 in the final. He was also part of the team which was on course for the 1990 world cup, a team which ran riot against Senegal beating them 4-0, a match in which he scored a goal with only a dubious officiating in Morocco which saw Zambia lose one-nil and miss out on qualification.
Mbasela was part of the Zambian team at the 1994 AFCON but was sent home early for disciplinary issues after refusing to sit on the bench after differences with the coaching staff over playing time and Zambia went all the way to the finals where they lost to Nigeria 2-1.
He had a lot of nicknames because of the dribbling skills he was nicknamed ‘cool it’ due to his ability to cool down the tempo of the game and take on opponents at his mild pace. He was nicknamed ‘mupike’ meaning dribble him as he was known for his dribbling skills as he could dazzle and bulldoze the opponent.
In the 1997 world cup qualifier against Zaire now DRC, he suffered a compound fracture on the right leg which kept him out for two years and it marked the end of his national team career with 10 goals from 51 appearances and after recovery from the injury in 1999, he returned with Kalulushi modern stars in a league game against Zanaco and it was the same year at the end of the season when he retired from playing active football and a year later in 2000 he died.
Mbasela once dribbled Bruce Grobbelaar so badly that the former Liverpool keeper ended up kneeling in front of him, With such a pedigree Mbasela was surely in a class of his own.
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