Sometimes good things end for better things to begin.
As we count down to the Samuel Zoom Ndhlovu charity shield, we rake through the deeps of the soul of a lustrous career of the legendary Zoom and how he was not in the plane that crashed in Gabon even when he was the National team coach a few months before.
The Samuel Ndhlovu Zoom story
Samuel Zoom Ndhlovu is unarguably the best local coach the country has ever produced. He was in charge of the team that beat both Italy and Guatemala 4-0 at the 1988 Olympics. Zambia topped the group only to be given a 4-0 bashing by West Germany.
After a long streak of fascinating results from 1988, Zambia disappointed at the 1992 AFCON losing in the quarter-finals to eventual winners Côte d’Ivoire and the team arrived home to a barrage of criticism with fans calling for his resignation.
One accusation levelled at him was that he favoured certain local players at the expense of one or two European based professionals.
Ndhlovu, however, appealed for calm and reminded fans that ’emotions never win a war.’ “Fans must appreciate in football there are losses, wins and defeats. Even if you bring an angel Zambia will experience defeat one time or another.” He refused to step down saying he was the best man for the job and resisted calls for German coach Jochen Figge, who at the time was attached to the Ministry of Sport as a Development Officer, to join the squad.
Ndhlovu later relented and said he was ready to work with Figge who politely declined.
The criticism against him continued until he suddenly announced his resignation on July 1992, citing criticism from the media and lack of appreciation from fans. He was particularly incensed by a popular radio programme which questioned his reluctance to step aside and give chance to others.
He held on a bit more but a 2–0 loss away to Madagascar in a World Cup qualifier in December 1992 spelt the end of his reign as coach, only finding out when the FAZ announced in the press that he had been sacked and replaced with a new coaching team of Simwala, Godfrey Chitalu and Alex Chola .
He remarked that he was not surprised with the move charging that his dismissal was a fulfilment of a campaign pledge by the newly elected FAZ executive.
Ndhlovu stepped down as Zambian coach four months before the disaster. He had been Zambian National team Coach for eight years only to step down four months before disaster struck.
He packed his bags and headed for Lobatse in Botswana where he took charge of one of the country’s top clubs LCS Gunners. As a consequence, he was not with the Zambian squad during the fateful flight in April 1993 when the whole team was wiped out in the
He heard of the plane crash in Botswana and reflected that he would have been on that aircraft had he not decided to come to Botswana after falling out with the FAZ officials.
“I do not know whether I should say I am lucky, but because I had disagreements with those fellows, I decided to come here to take up an appointment as Lobatse Extension Gunners coach,”Coach Samuel Ndhlovu said.
He went on to win the league with the Gunners in 1994 and returned home in 1996 when he decided not to renew his contract.