Zambia’s soccer legend Kalusha Bwalya says returning to Seoul, South Korea, has stirred in him sweet memories about a team that he says has evolved from 1988 foundation and should go on to continue with such high profile matches.
Kalusha has returned to Seoul – this time as FAZ President and not a luminary left-footed wizardly who dazzled the world with a stunning hat-trick as the Zambia national soccer team shocked the world with a 4-0 demolition of highly fancied Italy during the 1988 Olympic Games.
When the Olympics still featured fully-fledged national sides and nearly rivalled Fifa World Cup finals matches, Kalusha inspired Zambia to a record victory over the former Fifa World Champions.
Italy had never been beaten by that heavy score line in any competition finals tournament and it was only repeated at the 2012 European championships when world champions Spain beat the Azzurri by 4-0 in the final in Kiev.
When the Zambian delegation landed at Seoul’s Icheon International airport on Sunday, the clock ticked 14:30hours – seven hours ahead of Zambia’s Central African Time of 07:30am.
He was first not greeted by the officials and other dignitaries who were on hand to receive the kings of Africa, but by a Korean summer drizzle; as if of a baptism of a long awaited return.
He certainly did not lace up his boots for his usual running and training with the squad. Jacob Mulenga, who after every intensive session of training, would look back and see Kalusha still going about his paces, was also not there to ask him “whether you also want to play going by the intensity of your training”.
When historians look back into soccer’s recollection path, they will find one fixture that stands out between Zambia and Korea.
On 9th January 2010 a fired up Zambia triumphed 4-2 at the Rand Stadium en-route to ending a 14-year wait to go past the first round of the Africa Cup of Nations finals in Angola. Kalu didn’t line up then, as he certainly did not in this third high profile meeting between Chipolopolo and the Red Devils yesterday.
“It’s a great opportunity for Chipolopolo to play in Seoul with a team that is tough, highly competitive and has a great history. You only need to look at their Asian Cup record as well as them being the most successful Asia world cup team with eight Fifa World Cup finals tournaments.”
“Yes, 1988 was the year that shall never be forgotten quickly by us as Zambians. What a team we had then! Returning to Seoul is wonderful for all of us as a team and as a nation. It brings back so many memories,” Kalusha said.
“On a personal note, my 1988 was incredible both for the team and as an individual. We set the tone for the rest of Africa and I believe that what we did then set us a foundation on which we have evolved as a football nation.
Since 1988, we have had many events and incidents and big matches but most importantly, our team has gone on to write history and win great games which have set us on a path of achievement and success.”