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THE ESTON MULENGA FACT-FILE

International career

First capped for Zambia in 1987, Mulenga made two AfCON appearances and played in one Olympic Games as well as three CECAFA tournaments.

Having established himself in the heart of the Zambia senior team in late 1987, Mulenga played in all his team’s five matches during the 1990 Algeria-held AFCON finals as the Samuel “Zoom” Ndhlovu tutored side won bronze.

In all of the three Group ‘B’ matches in which Zambia beat both Cameroon and Kenya by an identical 1-0 score-line respectively before drawing 0-0 with Senegal between March 3 to 9, Mulenga was a Mr. Ever-Present in the Zambian line-up.

When Zambia were humbled 2-0 by Nigeria in the semi-finals, Mulenga together with Samuel Chomba, anchored the central defence.

Similarly, in the third play-off match in which Zambia beat Senegal through a Webster Chikabala lone goal, Mulenga was very much a vital cog of the flat four defence band of Soko, Changwe and Chomba.

Elsewhere, Mulenga, the man they fondly called King Yellow-man, was part and parcel of the 1992 Zambia squad to the Senegal-held tournament in which edition Mulenga and Co. were sent packing in the quarter-finals after being beaten 1-0 by Co d’Ivoire on January 20, 1992.

Earlier in Zambia’s Group D matches, she beat Egypt 1-0 in her opening game but would be defeated by the same score-line by Ghana in the second and last match of the pool, Abedi Pele scoring the only goal of the match at the Stade Aline Sitoe Diatta in the town of Ziguinchor.

And in the memorable 1988 Seoul Olympics in which Zambia produced a sensational 4-0 mauling of Italy in the group stage before exiting in the quarter-finals, Mulenga played a key role in defence with skipper Ashious Melu and Edmund Mumba.

Other prominent members of that famous squad were fellow Gabon plane crash colleagues Efford Chabala, Derby Makinka, Samuel Chomba, Wisdom Chansa and Richard Mwanza.

Others were Manfred Chabinga, Pearson Mwanza, Lucky Msiska, Kalusha Bwalya, Charles Musonda, Stone Nyirenda and Johnson Bwlaya among others.

In the regional CECAFA tournament, Mulenga formed part of the 1988 team to the Malawi-held tournament where Zambia were beaten 3-1 by the host nation. 

In the 1991 CECAFA competition, Mulenga was in the victorious Zambia team that beat Kenya 2-0 in the final in the Uganda-staged championship.

King Yellowman was also an integral part of the Zambia team that won bronze the 1992 CECAFA showpiece won by Uganda.

Legacy

Very few players would play for a club in the top-flight for a short period like three years and go on to win 10 honours. Yet Mulenga, just under three seasons at Nkana, won a dozen accolades in addition to the individual national Footballer-of-the-Year award.

And for the fact that he held on to the central defence position for five consecutive years, only for the Gabon Air Diasater to disrupt that incredible longevity, is another bright spot on Mr. King Yellow-man’s rich CV.

Personal life 

At the time of the Gabon plane crash, Eston Mulenga, aged 25, though he had fathered a son, was still a member of the Bachelor club just like the youngest players two players of Moses Chikwalakwala (18 years and 8 months) and Kenani Simambe (18 years and 8 months), Mwila Numba (20 and 11 months and John Soko (24 years and 11 months).

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