THE ALEX CHOLA FACT-FILE

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In December of the same poor-finishing season, Chola, after vehement denials that he was on the verge of joining newly promoted Power Dynamos, it emerged that he had actually sealed a deal with the Kitwe side.

Come 1980, he was a Dynamos’ player – offered a lucrative, irresistible contract.

Like was the case at Blackpool, like a comet of magic, Chola’s start at Arthur Davies Stadium was indelibly instant.

He delivered both goals on his debut, in his team’s 2-0 bashing of Green Buffaloes in the Champion of Champions semi-final tie and would also score a goal in the final, a 3-0 destruction of Wanderers at Dag Hammarskjold Stadium. Dynamos would defend the Champions of Champions Cup the following year.

More success was to follow to the boy who soon came to be nicknamed “The Computer”. In his maiden season for his new team in 1980, Chola led Dynamos to a 2-0 beating of Army side Buffaloes in the Independence Cup final staged at the same venue, four days before Zambia’s 16th Independence anniversary.

Peter Kaumba and Ronald Chinku were Dynamos’ assassins on the day – October 20, 1980 to be exact.

Chola ended the season as his team’s top-scorer.

Come 1982, Chola’s Dynamos’ would win the Independence Cup, as the Mosi Cup was known then, taking Chililabombwe side Konkola Blades to the cleaners with a 5-0 demolition at Dag Hammarskjold Stadium in a final that was strangely played on January 2, 1983.

The men who mercilessly and remorselessly put Konkola to the sword were Stafford Mutalama and Kaumba who shared two goals apiece with majestic maestro Chola providing the other.

Runners-up to Nkana Football Club in the Premier League and runners-up to Egyptian giants Arab Contractors in the African Cup winners Cup over two legs (4-0 on aggregate), Chola’s consolation was that of emerging runner-up to national top-scorer and club and country colleague mate Kaumba.

Elsewhere, Chola was a vital cog in the Dynamos’ squad that won the Six-Nation Rothmans Invitational Trophy tournament staged in the Ivorian capital of Abidjan in May 1983.

On the road to glory, Chola and company narrowly beat hosts Stella Abidjan 2-1, thrashed Gabonese side FC105 4-1 and tanned Nigeria’s Bendel Insurance 2-1 before finally playing out a barren stalemate against Cameroonian titans Tonnere Yaounde FC. Power prevailed 5-4 in a post-match shoot-out, thanks to their goalkeeper Blackwell Chalwe who saved one spot-kick to send his team into the celebration and jubilation.

Hugely impressed with Chola and Kaumba during the Rothman’s invitational, Ivory Coast’s Africa Sports, signed the duo but the romance would be short-lived.

After the three-year professional contract with the Club African fell through, the duo were back at Arthur Davies in July 1984, just in time to push for title which was achieved – in essence – becoming both Chola and Dynamos’ first ever Premier League title. Wanderers, who led the table for the good part of the season, were relegated to second position with a point difference with the new champions (33-32).   

Chola’s last match for Dynamos, the very last of his career, came on November 1, 1987 in the Independence Cup final against Kabwe Warriors at Independence Stadium in which his team lost 3-2 with Kapambwe Mulenga scoring for the runners-up while the other was an own goal by the victor’s defender James Chitalu. A sad ending to Chola’s illustrious career as he sustained a fractured tibia on the left leg in the opening half hour following a collision with Warriors’ defender Whiteson Changwe – a clear late challenge by the latter.

By the same twist of fate, both perished in the April 1993 Gabon Air Disaster alongside 28 other passengers aboard a military Buffalo plane.

International career

Chola, the man they affectionately nicknamed Computer, made his full international appearance for Zambia on September 14, 1975 in an African Cup of Nations (AfCON) qualifier against Malawi in Lusaka in a blistering 3-3 stalemate and would also star in the return away fixture two weeks later on September 28 in a 6-1 capitulation of the host nation.

Sadly for Chola, his Zambia side would fail to qualify for the 1976 Ethiopia AfCON Championship as they were sent packing in the second round. Having beaten Uganda 2-1 at home on October 26, 1975, Zambia would be trounced 3-0 in the corresponding fixture on November 11.

Chola would make up for the 1976 misery of his Zambia failing to qualify for the AfCON by being part and parcel of the 1978 and 1982 showpieces in Ghana and Libya respectively.

In the Ghana-held tournament, Chola’s Zambia went out in the first round. She lost 2-1 to the hosts with Green Buffaloes’ Obby Kapita netting the consolation for the Brian Tiler coached KK11, as Zambia was fondly dubbed then.

And despite beating Upper Volta (Burkina Faso) 2-0, the two Phiris of Red Arrows’ Patrick and Buffaloes’ Bizwell sharing a goal each, Zambia would bow out altogether following a barren draw with Nigeria.

Group winners Ghana and runners-up Nigeria, on 5 and 4 points respectively, proceeded to the semi-finals. And as is well documented, the Razak Abdul-captained Ghana team went on to win the tournament with a 2-0 bashing of the Uganda Cranes.

At the 1982 Libya-held bonanza, in Zambia’s three group stage matches, the semi-final, later on the semi-final and the third play-off which Zambia won 2-0 with club-mate Peter Kaumba and Kabwe Warriors’ forward Godfrey Munshya sharing the spoils, Chola failed to have his name appear on the score-sheet. 

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