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Zambia/Chris Katongo: A model captain


Just like this African Cup of Nations and like the winning team, the person who was elected best player of the tournament, Chrsitopher Katongo, is not a star. The Chipolopolo striker is rather a quiet force whose presence reassures his teammates.   The new African number one was born thirty-one years  ago in Mufulira, a town situated on the border of Congo where was born the great Zambian football star survivor of the crash of 1993, Kalusha Bwalya. When looking at his career begun in junior in the Kalushi Moderns Stars, one notices that it is linear without significant jolts. After an unsuccessful stay at the Green Buffaloes (no Zambian title), Chris crossed the border to try his luck in the iconic South African club, the Jomo Cosmos. Though he scored a lot of goals (36 in 72 games) with the Ezenkosi, he left the Johanesburg Club dear to the Jomo Sono legend empty-handed. But like many African players, Christopher Katongo had eyes on Europe. His dream began true in 2007. Jomo Cosmos FC gave him out to a Danish club, the IF Bronbdy. For 30 months the Chipolopolo tasted the very high level. He played his first and last Champions League and registered thanks to a victory in the Danish Cup, a first title in his list of achievements. Surprisingly, this successful experience in Denmark does not open for him the doors of the big European clubs. Whereas  his technical ability, his knowledge of dribbling, his combativeness, his exemplary attitude on the field are in his favour. Instead, the Zambian   had simply to be contented with the offer of a German team of Bundeliga 2, Arminia Bielefeld. He spent three straight seasons there. Certainly, he played regularly but scored little 16 goals in 51 matches in all competitions.  Discouragement, denial or realism? After the cutesy German history, Katongo went into exile in the modest Greek league when he joined a club in the second zone, the Skoda Xanthi. The descent, not to hell, but in the basement of anonymity started . At 28, Chris Katongo seems to have made the choice of job security and financial guarantees. This is what probably explains his decision to go, after a tasteless Greek stay, and see if the grass is greener in China. In July 2011, he signed  a three-year contract with Henan Construction based in   Zhengzou, the capital of Henan province. Nothing to be excited about. Katongo seems to have put a cross on the sports project. But during all the faded years, the elder brother of Felix – his brother is also International – continued to have fun with the national team. Since his first selection in 2003, he has always answered present. One can only notice an absence  in   2007 and 2008 while playing for Brondby. For the rest, Chris Katongo had taken part in all of Chipolopolo international campaigns, particularly during the 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2012 AFCON. After becoming his captain, Katongo has often been decisive in crucial games. It is even him who scored the qualifying goal against Equatorial Guinea in the quarter finals. As a real captain, he was the one who inaugurated the victorious penalty shoot out series during the final against Cote d’Ivoire. The man who was until then without record entered the Zambian football legend in sensational manner by bringing in his luggage the most coveted cup by the most talented African footballers. This success that is  both collective and personal could open other horizons. Under the spotlight at thirty, thanks to the national team, Christopher Katongo has perhaps just offered himself  a great opportunity to live a more exciting last story in a more ambitious cl

Signature : Faisal Chehat

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