Zambians have been known to dominate one of Africa’s most desired football destinations. Usually in the form of strikers, Zambian players have been known to terrorise South African defenses. The most recent of these Zambian stars is Mwape Musonda, who picked up the 2019 golden boot after netting 16 times for the Black Leopards.
Nothing excites quite as much as a solid number 9, who scores goals, holds up the ball, and has fantastic link up play, and Zambia has become known to produce some greats. Here, we will list two of the best Zambians to represent one or more of South Africa’s many local teams in the country’s top flight.
Katongo is often quoted to be amongst one of Zambia’s greatest exports, and is one of the more decorated custodians of Zambian football, having captained his national team to the 2012 Afcon, and having received BBC’s best African footballer of the year award in the same year.
The deadly striker, known for his speed and acrobatic celebrations, first headed to South Africa in 2004 to join up with one of the country’s most famous footballing establishments, Jomo Cosmos.
Katongo started his career in his home nation, completing stints at Butondo Tigers and Kalushi Modern Stars before making a move to the Green Buffaloes in 2001. In 3 years with the Buffaloes, Katongo managed to net 20 times in 75 appearances, which triggered Jomo Cosmos’ interest in the striker.
He completed a move to Cosmos in 2004, and went on to devastate the South African football scene. He managed to score 36 times in just 72 appearances, averaging a goal every second game, a feat that is only matched by some of world football’s greatest stars. He spent 3 years in what would be his initial stint in South Africa, before moving to Danish heavyweights Brøndby IF.
After a season at Brøndby IF, his exploits took him across Europe, first to Germany and later to Greece. Katongo then had a stint in China before moving back to South Africa in 2014, where he went on to represent the Golden Arrows, and later the Bidvest Wits.
Katongo became an international stalwart as he represented his country for 13 years, amassing an impressive 105 appearances, and scoring 23 times.
Another lethal striker flying the Zambian flag high, Lota became a fan favourite amongst the Orlando Pirates faithful. There aren’t too many other teams that South African betting sites choose as favourites to beat the Pirates, who are one of the most influential clubs in the country.
Prior to his tenure at Pirates, Lota had a long history of moving between clubs. He started his career with Zanaco FC in 1989, before making his way to Nchanga Rangers, where he established a strong midfield partnership with Abeauty Kunda.
After a spell at Kwabe Warriors, Lota moved to Konkola Blades, where he transitioned from midfielder to striker, a move that would later come to define his career. He scored 26 goals in 33 appearances with the Blades, which was enough to attract the interest of then named Witbank Aces (later renamed Mpumalanga Black Aces, and then later completely overhauled and moved to Cape Town taking the name Cape Town FC).
At the Aces he managed another impressive goal scoring record, netting 23 times in just 30 appearances. His performances allured the interests of Swiss club Sion, where he went on to spend a season appearing 21 times and scoring 14 times.
It was his time in Switzerland that got the attention of Orlando Pirates, and he later signed for them in 1998. It was here that Lota earned the nickname of Chesa Mpama, directly translated to the hot slap, for his celebration involving him rubbing his palms together. He spent four years at Pirates, ammassing 100 appearances and 23 goals.
While Chesa Mpama went on to represent a number of other South African clubs, it was at Pirates were he really established himself and made his mark.