THE KELVIN MUTALE FACT-FILE

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Earlier in the year, on February 22, 2009 during the inaugural CHAN (Championship of African nations) in Cote d’Ivoire, it was Given Singuluma who bagged all three goals as Zambia thrashed the host nation 3-0 to the good.

Also joining the band of hat-trick heroes is former Zambia captain Christopher Katongo.

His feat came in September 2005 in a 3-1 whacking of South Africa in a 2006 Egypt African Cup of Nations qualifier. The 2012 AfCON winning skipper and 2012 BBC African Footballer-of-the-Year, delivered one of the most famous hat-tricks as it ultimately qualified his team to the continent’s biggest sporting events, with Zambia on the verge of failing to qualify in the event of a draw or worst still, a loss.

Collins Mbesuma, the man the South African fans fondly gave the nickname “Ntofontofo” for his deceptively flabby but strong body, the forward who also went on to score 35 goals in all competitions for the ABSA Premier Soccer League (PSL) giants Kaizer Chiefs during the 2004-2005 season, has joined Chipolopolo’s band of famous hat-trick achievers.

Ntofontofo’s achievement came on October 10, 2004 when he plundered all three goals in his team’s 3-2 away victory over the Republic of Congo in their own backyard in the combined 2006 African Cup of Nations/World Cup qualifiers’ series.

And by his larger-than-life feat, Mbesuma ended Les Diables Rogues’ (Red Devils’) 14-year-unbeaten home record that stretched 16 matches on the trot before Mbesuma’s coup de grace.    

Kalusha Bwalya, the only man to have ever won the coveted African Footballer-of-the-Year award (1988) from Southern African region and one of the only three players to have ever won the honour south of the Equator since the individual award was established in 1970, got his name written in gold when he scored a hat-trick of his own during the 1996 AfCON finals in South Africa in the 4-0 drowning of Sierra Leone in a Group B match. Kenneth Malitoli scored the other to complete the demolition of the West Africans.

Eight years earlier, the man they affectionately call “Great Kalu” even in retirement, had netted a more famous hat-trick at the Seoul Olympics in South Korea as Zambia smashed Italy 4-0 in the group stage. The other Bwalya, Johnson, scored the other goal.

Another hat-trick deliverer for Zambia at senior level is Nkana’s Michael Chabala. He registered a trinity against Cameroon in a 1986 World Cup finals qualifier as Zambia crushed the so-called Indomitable Lions 4-1 at Lusaka’s Independence Stadium on April 7, 1985.

Red Arrows’ utility player Aaron Njovu, got the fourth goal.

At the 1974 1974 Egypt AfCON finals Rhokana United’s (Bernard) Chanda bombed three times against Congo Brazzaville as The Congo Republic was called then, as Zambia romped home 4-2 winners after extra-time after regulation time produced a 2-2 stalemate in the semi-finals. Chanda’s former Roan United club-mate Joseph Mapulanga scored the other.

And on June 4, 1972 in a West Germany World Cup qualifier played at Lusaka’s Independence Stadium, a clinical Zambia dismembered Lesotho 6-1 with Freddie Mwila drilling in three goals.

As can be seen from the foregoing, Kelvin “Malaza” Mutale belongs to the greats in Zambian football pantheon alongside Chitalu, Chanda, and Kalusha among others.

Individual honour

And at individual level, despite the prestigious Footballer-of-the-Year award going to fellow club and country-mate Eston Mulenga who he perished with together 17 other players in the 1993 Gabon plane crash, Mutale scooped the top-scorer award after scoring 39 goals in all competitions.

By that feat, Mutale becomes Nkana’s joint all-time record scorer with the late Bernard Chanda who also scored the same number of goals during the 1973 season in all competitions (jointly with Kabwe Warriors’ Godfrey Chitalu).

The second best record at Nkana is best (Bernard) Chanda and Chambeshi who scored 38 goals each in 1973 and 1988 respectively.

Elsewhere, Kenneth Malitoli scored 34 goals in all competitions in 19911 to emerge national top-scorer.

Legacy

He won a Premier League winners’ medal in his first and only season with Nkana in 1992. And for him to have emerged the country’s top-scorer in all competitions further cemented his place in Zambian football. It further illustrates how special the man was as a forward to both his club and country.

More amazing is the fact that since his demise in the Gabon plane crash in April 1993, his 39 goals in all competitions, 25 down the line, no player has ever come closer to breaking his record, worst still, to surpassing it. He stands out like the leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy.

Personal life

At the time of the April 1993 Gabon Air Disaster, Mutale was part of the group of confirmed bachelors in the squad of 18 players who perished off the Gabonese capital of Libreville, the likes of strike-partner Kenani Simambe of Power Dynamos, Nkana’s threesome of John Soko, Moses Chikwalakwala and Mwila Numba. 

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