Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Kabwe Warriors (Zambia), 1972

After their segregation from the UK in 1964, soccer in Zambia (formerly known as Northern Rhodesia), really took off in the early seventies. On club level, Kabwe Warriors was the first Zambian club entering the African Champions Cup in 1972. That same year, 1972, Kabwe Warriors took all the silverware on the national level. With special thanks to forward Godfrey 'Ucar' Chitalu, who certainly made some headlines of his own.

In 1972 Zambia had two big clubs. Mufulira Wanderers had won the championship five times: in 1963 (before independence), 1965, 1966, 1967 and 1969. Kabwe Warriors, the other powerhouse, claimed their first title in 1968, and were champions again in 1970 and 1971. Both had excellent players, Mufulira concentrated on a tough defense with Dickson Makwaza, Dick Chama and the three Nkole-brothers Abraham (goalkeeper), Patrick and Edward. Kabwe Warriors were spectacular upfront with Boniface Simutowe, Sandy Kaposa and Godfrey Chitalu.
How spectacular, is rather difficult to say. Statistical records in Zambia were for the whole season, it didn't matter much if it were league goals, cup goals (much easier to score, particularly in the first rounds with poor opposition) or even goals in friendly club matches. The player who totalled the most goals, was crowned top goalscorer of the year. Evidently, you had to score a lot, as is shown beneath:

Goals in all matches
Godfrey Chitalu
Kitwe United
Robertson Zulu
Sandy Kaposa
Boniface Simutowe
Mufulira Wanders
Kabwe Warriors
Kabwe Warriors
Sandy Kaposa
Boniface Simutowe
Kabwe Warriors
Kabwe Warriors
Godfrey Chitalu
Kabwe Warriors

International debut

Godfrey Chitalu, in 1978
Kabwe Warriors started the season with their debut in the African Champions Cup, which also was a first for Zambia. Majantja from tiny Lesotho was no match, although the first match (2-2) suggested otherwise. Godfrey Chitalu scored both goals. At home Majantja was trashed 9-0, with Chitalu scoring an amazing seven, Sandford Mvula and Boniface Simutowe adding the other two.
Madagascar's St. Michael was the next opponent. At home, Warriors only managed a 2-1 victory,  Fred Mgulube and Chitalu scoring. Away in Antananarivo it was much easier: 3-0, with goals from Oliver Musonda (2) and Chitalu. This mighty adventure ended in October, when Kabwe Warriors faced Ghana giants Hearts of Oak. In Accra, the team got trounced 7-2 (goals by Simutowe and Chitalu). Their performance at home wasn't good either, losing 1-2. Of course, Chitalu scored again and was crowned top goalscorer of the tournament with thirteen goals.

National league 1972

At national level, Kabwe Warriors didn't win the league by a landslide. For starters, they lost heavily, twice, against Rokana United, 2-6 and 1-4. Most of the season they were forced to chase Nchanga Rangers. Halfway in November, Kabwe Warriors were behind in matches and in points (34, trailing the 39 of Nchanga). By winning all their remaining matches, Kabwe Warriors eventually did clinch their fourth league title. Godfrey Chitalu scored no less than 49 goals during this league campaign, leaving teammates Sandy Kaposa (14) and Boniface Simutowe (11) far behind. The other Warriors-goals were scored by Sandford Mvula (7), Gibby Zulu (6), Oliver Musonda (4), Fred Ngulube (1), M. Mlbangwe 1, Edward  Musonda (1) and Richard Stephenson (1).

Cup Tournaments 1972

The Kabwe Warriors team of 1972 is legendary in Zambia because they not only won the league, but also the Charity Shield and all cup tournaments. They started off the domestic season with a 1-0 (goal by Chitalu) victory in the Charity Shield against Kitwe United in February. The Challenge Cup and the Chibuku Cup were won in October, the Castle Cup in November.

Opponent in final and score
Goalscorers Kabwe Warriors
Chibuku Cup
Rokana United 5-3
Chitalu (4), Simutowe (1)
Challenge Cup
Ndola United 3-1
Chitalu (2), Kaposa (1)
Castle Cup
Kitwe United 6-1
Chitalu (3), Mvula (1), Kaposa (1), Simutowe (1)

Godfrey Chitalu

Kabwe Warriors probably wouldn't have won all these trophies, if it wasn't for Godfrey Chitalu. By Zambians he is considered their best player of all time, way ahead of better known players for example of the nineties, like Kalusha Bwalya and Charles Musonda. As a youngster at Kitwe United, Chitalu had some trouble with his temper, receiving red cards and suspensions. But his ability was never doubted. Nicknamed Ucar after an longlasting battery, he seemed unstoppable. He is the only Zambian player who was elected Footballer of the Year five times, no-one else accomplished this more than once.

Chitalu with his record,
107 goals in all competitions in 1972 

World record

Chitalu scored an unbelievable amount of goals in his career, 1972 being his best ever season. In fact, while Lionel Messi was banging in goals for Barcelona and Argentina in 2012, people in Zambia remembered the goals Chitalu scored in 1972. Back in those days, the Zambian FA had already acknowledged his record, giving him a football with the number 107on it, being his goaltally that year.
Zambian historian Jerry Muchimba even counted 116 (the first round of the African Champions Cup had been left out, because the 1972 season hadn't officially started yet), of which eleven weren't official. That still leaves 105, better than Messi (91) and Gerd Müller (85, also in 1972). Of course it's not really fair to compare these totals, and to announce one of them world record holder. Either way, it's a great record for Chitalu, who also holds the record for most goals scored (74) for the national team of Zambia.
After a long career, Chitalu became a manager. He died on the darkest day in Zambian soccer. As the teammanager he also crashed into the sea with the Zambian national team on April 27, 1993. He was 45 years old.

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