WHITESON CHANGWE FACT-FILE
Written by Millennium on January 19, 2019
Daniel Kaoma writes
Changwe will surely go down in history as one of several Zambian left-backs who was predominantly right-footed defenders (alongside Musenge, Kalambo and Aggrey Chiyangi) but who was converted to left-back due to a shortage of natural left-backs in the country to play at the highest level and made him even a more finished product in the flat-four of the Zambia team during Samuel Ndhlovu and Chitalu’s reigns between 1988 to April 1993.
During this time, Changwe made two AfCON appearances – at the 1990 Algeria finals and 1992 Senegal showpiece together with Warriors’ club-mates of goalkeeper Richard Mwanza, fellow defender Samuel Chomba and winger Mwitwa – all three who perished with him in the 1993 Gabon plane crash alongside 14 other players and two coaches – (Godfrey) Chitalu and his assistant Alex Chola, together with 10 others.
Elsewhere, Changwe was part and parcel of the Zambia teams to the 1991 and 1992 CECAFA tournaments held in Uganda and Tanzania respectively with his country emerging victorious in the former showpiece, beating Kenya 2-1 in the final.
In the latter tournament, Changwe and colleagues won bronze in the third play-off after thrashing Malawi 4-0.
And during the joint 1994 Tunisia AfCON and the USA World Cup qualifiers – Changwe was a permanent feature of the fabulous four of right-back John Soko, and twin central defenders Robert Watiyakeni and Eston Mulenga, appearing in each and every match. A Mr. Ever-present he proved to be, similar to what former Arsenal and England left-back Ken Sansom was at one time during his heyday with the Gunners and the so-called Three Lions in the 1980s.
In the 1994 AfCON qualifiers, with Zambia put in Group 5, Changwe played in all of his country’s four matches up until April 25, 1993.
He was the incumbent when Zambia beat Mauritius 2-1 in Lusaka on August 16, 1992 and would reclaim his place in the starting XI when Chitalu’s team narrowly beat South Africa 1-0 in their own backyard on August 30 that same year.
In the third match in the series against Zimbabwe in Lusaka in a surprise barren stalemate, Changwe was in the traditional back four of Soko and the twin central defence towers of Eston Mulenga and Robert Watiyakeni.
And in the fourth and ‘ultimately last match’ by a twist of fate for the ill-fated team, on April 25, 1993, in an away fixture against Mauritius, Changwe was the undisputed choice at left-back. Zambia won 3-0 with all three goals scored by the unstoppable scoring machine named Kelvin “Malaza” Mutale of Saudi Arabian side El-Ettigaq, a team he had been with for less than six months following his switch from Nkana Football Club earlier that year.
For being the only defender to have ever scored in Kabwe Warriors’ seven Charity Shield finals, that is indeed a bright spot on Changwe’s curriculum vitae.
For winning 11 honours with Warriors out of the 34 collective honours the club has gathered, is a huge achievement for the former Zambia defender.
Second, for holding on to the left-back position as a right-footed player for three years in the face of so many natural left-backs but who were not good enough to play for country, is further proof of worth as a national team player.
Changwe was married at the time of the Gabon plane crash in April 1993.