THE WHITESON CHANGWE FACT-FILE

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WHITESON CHANGWE

IMPROVISED, EXCELLENT LEFT-BACK

Birth and roots

The improvised Zambia left-back was another of the eight footballers out of the 18 Gabon plane crash victims who was born in the mining town of Kitwe.

Changwe was born on October 19, 1964, five days before Zambia attained political independence from its British colonial masters on October 24, 1964.

Style of play

Changwe, who had a pretty successful playing career at Kabwe Warriors, was what may be described as a square peg in a round hole for he was a natural right-footer, but owing to a dearth of natural left-backs at both club and national level, he was converted to the left side of the flat four of the defence and proved to be one of the most successful conversions in Zambian football, falling in the same bracket as Ackim Musenge (from midfielder at Butondo Western Tigers to become a central defender at nine-time top-flight champions Mufulira Wanderers, to arguably become the best central defender Zambian football has ever produced).

Other cases of transformation from their natural positions to something else, involved Ashoius Melu who was an out-and-out forward at Konkola Blades but was switched to central defender at Mufulira Wanderers by head-coach Samuel Ndhlovu to become one of the best defenders of his era and ranks among a few classic examples of high-profile conversions in Zambian football at the highest level.

A hard tackler and man-to-man marker of the highest quality, Changwe was of the overlapping breed of defenders and loved to go forward when the occasion presented itself.

Almost impossible to dispossess, despite being a defender, he had one of the surest timely crosses in the game.

Like former Wanderers’ forward-turned defender Melu, Changwe was lethal and a frequent goal-scorer from free-kick situations, let alone, impeccable from the penalty-spot where, with the goalkeeper expecting him to use his left foot, he would convert with aplomb and precision with his cultured right foot – usually sending the goalie in the opposite direction or would leave him deeply-rooted to the ground as the ball thundered against the net.

Club career

While at Kabwe Warriors, Changwe won 11 honours as a player, making him one of the most successful players of the five-time top-flight league winners – alongside Boniface Simutowe, Sandy Kaposa, Gibby Zulu and Edward Musonda – all five who won 16 honours each between 1968 and 1973.

Changwe was part of the glorious Warriors team of 1987 who won the Premier League title, edging out second-placed Power Dynamos by a single point (34-33) in the 2-points-for-a-win awarding system then in the 14-log Premier League which saw Zesco United finish as tail-enders with 13 points – winning only four matches and drawing 5 and losing a whole world of 17 from 26 that term.

In marked contrast, Changwe’s Warriors, from as many matches, won 13 (the most that season by any team), drew 8 and lost 4, scored 46 goals (averaging 2 per match) and conceded 31.

In that treble-winning season of 1987, Changwe also picked two more winners’ medals – one in the Independence Cup and the other coming in the Champion of Champions Cup.

In emerging victorious in the Independence Cup, as the Mosi Cup was called then, Changwe’s Warriors beat Power Dynamos 3-2 with Maxon Mugala and Linos Chisanga among the scorers.

And in the Heroes and Unity Cup, formerly called the Chibuku Cup that same year, Changwe played a key role in his team’s 2-1 defeat of Nkana Red devils with the pocket of magic Noel Chama and Matthews Njovu sharing the spoils in a final in which the losing-finalists defender Mordon Malitoli was banished from the field for ungentlemanly play and behaviour.

TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW

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