Tuesday, July 16, 2024

INSIDE CHIPOLOPOLO CAMP: The Chibwe effect in goal

When Chipolopolo Boys Micho opted to leave out South Africa-born Cyril Mwenya Chibwe for the Green Eagles goalkeeper Sebastian Mwange for the AFCON qualifiers against Botswana last year, many Chipolopolo faithful were shocked. Those who follow the local league, are alive to the fact that Zambia is yet to find a goalkeeper ready enough to fill the shoes of the legendary Kennedy Mweene.

Since 2013, the likes of Toaster Nsabata, Danny Munyao, and Mwange have been tried but unfortunately, none of them have been convinced.

When news broke out that Cyril had chosen to represent the Chipolopolo over Bafana Bafana, it gave hope to many fans that finally Zambia’s problematic position will be sorted out.

Then Chipolopolo coach Aggrey Chiyangi didn’t hesitate to hand the South African born his debut in a friendly against Benin as a second-half substitute.

He then went on to make his dream competitive debut against Zimbabwe at Heroes Stadium to fulfill his father’s dream. Even though Zambia lost, the boy from Msanzi accounted himself well.

“My roots are in Zambia having both my parents born there and I also wanted to fulfill my fathers’ dream of playing for the national team which he never got to do in his playing days,” the Polokwane City goalkeeper told the ZamFoot Crew in an exclusive interview last year.

Chiyangi was then fired and came to the Serbian coach Micho.

Micho ignored him and opted for Mwange, who had just been voted as the best goalkeeper at the 2019 Cosafa Cup.

Mwange earned himself a deal at South African side Maritzburg United which ruled him out of the CHAN tournament in Cameroon.

This meant that the search for a new goalkeeper intensified. Micho discovered a rookie goalkeeper in the Prison Leopards’ Charles Kalumba but the inexperienced Ndola native blew away his chances in pre-tournament friendlies.

Micho showed his lack of patience and their whispers that the Serbian coach almost sent Kalumba packing from the squad if not for the intervention of some of the members of his technical bench.

Phone calls were then made to Alick Nkhata road, and 24 hours later on Green Eagles’ much-traveled goalkeeper Allan Chibwe was on the plane to Cameroon.

Chibwe was back in the Chipolopolo setup and accounted for himself well in the group stage ties at CHAN before he was brought to earth by the rampaging Morocco attackers.

With a sound tournament, the former Zanaco and Power Dynamos goalkeeper earned himself a place in the AFCON qualifiers squad and finds himself competing against his namesake.

Kabwe Warriors’ Lameck Banda is also in the squad as a third choice despite him not getting game time as Scott Ngokene is preferred at Godfrey ‘Ucar’ Chitalu Stadium.

ZamFoot Verdict: Cyril Mwenya Chibwe v Allan Chibwe. It’s close call but it seems like the South African-based goalkeeper will get the nod.

Charles Kalumba remains the best Zambian goalkeeper. The kid just needs exposure and a gradual introduction to the international setup.

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