The Bomber, the MESSille & The Copper Bullet….

Now if you, like I did, thought the Chipolopolo’s emotional win of the 2012 edition of the Africa Cup Of Nations (AFCON) was one of the shocks-of-footy this year……STOP THE PRESS!!!….there is more.  It would appear that, according to the Zambian Football Association (ZFA), Lionel Messi is just getting warmed up in his attempt to break the “world record” of goals scored in a calender.  Messi, and the rest of us, thought he had it wrapped up when he scored goals number 85 & 86 against Real Betis and surpassed Gerd Muller’s 40 year mark of 85.  Messi would even have been forgiven for thinking that he had put some daylight between himself and Muller, and indeed extended that record, by getting to 88 with another brace as Barca swept aside Cordoba in the Copa Del Rey.

The boys in Luanda though are not convinced.  According to them Messi will have to really play out of his skin to earn their respect.  With 2 more competitive matches to be played in 2012 for Leo he would have to score 10 more goals……in each game to surpass what they believe to be the real “world record” of 107 goals!  According to Zambian researchers, while Messi surpassed Pele, and then Muller (heavyweight names in the footy world), the real target he should have been focusing on is one GEORGE CHITALU, a former Kabwe Warriors and Chipolopolo forward who ironically also set his record 40 years ago in 1972.

A few of you have probably now rolled your eyes at the contents of the last paragraph.  I mean seriously speaking in what WORLD can we equate the exploits of 2 WORLD renowned players to those of a lesser known player, who probably does not even command the attention of the Southern African region in which he allegedly made history…?  In what WORLD can scoring for Kabwe Warriors equate to doing so for Bayern Munich or Barcelona?  In what WORLD does the Zambian top flight represent a comparable field of play to the Bundesliga and Spanish Primera Liga?  While the conceivable answer, with probably reasonably argued rationale, would be to say NOT in this WORLD!…..I however would argue otherwise.

I would argue otherwise, not just for the sake of it.  I would argue otherwise not just to be contrary.  I would argue otherwise and base that argument on a simple fact.  A simple fact that for as long as you can spin the globe and be able to find Zambia on it along with Brazil, Germany, Spain and Argentina, then it is in THAT WORLD that the aforementioned comparisons can be made.  Many a time the term WORLD is misused.  Be it WORLD Championship status being awarded to American sports franchises for winning championships in insular leagues like the NBA, NFL, MLB or NHL even though the respctive sporting codes are played at a high level elswhere in the WORLD!  It would seem we are all too quick to accept the more publicized/promoted offerings as being infallible.  But is it really?

While the Zambian objection may seem be nothing more than a nuisance to some, they have earned the right to contest this record and present their case.  If Messi’s goal tally at the end of the season is to be recognised globally as a WORLD record, then it should be able to survive ALL forms of scrutiny.  We may have to come up with a weighting system similar to the one UEFA employs to “properly” categorise goalscoring feats according to the perceived strength of the environment they are achieved in.  BUT until then the Zambians may have a case.   And I dare say the Zambians will not be the only ones to object!  Once all the debates have been had and the reasonable system has been established we will be able to properly classify each feat.

My hope is also for this incident to spur the powers that be, in Africa, to really up their game with regards to keeping records!  It is apalling that it should take Messi’s brilliant run to ignite The Zambians into action 40 years on.  While the details surrounding George Chitalu’s record remain sketchy, the sceptics will rightfully argue as to why it has taken this long for it to be brought to the fore.  Why is it that it took a group of independent researchers to present this to the ZFA?  Why did the same ZFA not already have this fantastic stat in their books?  Why have the ZFA had to wait until now to present this to the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and ultimately FIFA?  Sadly this is a snapshot of the status quo across the motherland, where such viatal statistics remain by and large unverifiable, and constantly change depending on the social gathering you find yourself in.  This, and other such feats, has been reduced to the reliability of oral history.  Heroes we should be celebrating in various Halls of Fame, have to be content with being mentioned in the pub banter.

Had all of this been handled properly we would have been spared this scenario and would know for sure whether Gerd “DER BOMBER” Muller’s record is the one that Lionel should have MESSiled, or if a COPPER-BULLET is indeed the WORLD’S top annual marksman.

http://soccernet.espn.go.com/news/story/_/id/1261010/zambian-fa-plan-to-contest-lionel-messi’s-goalscoring-record?cc=3888

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One Comment on “The Bomber, the MESSille & The Copper Bullet….”

  1. Mandla Nkomo Says:

    Most interesting read. I agree if it is a credible feat George Chitalu should be given the accolade he deserves. The blame should really, and in my view at least, does lie with the Zambian FA for having not taken this up to FIFA for the record books. However I reckon let the necessary research be done and lets give credit where credit is due. The question I have is would the achievement not have been noted if it had been in one of the “lesser” European leagues or does “the world” only belong to the few nations. If the Zambian league and the other competitions that Chitalu scored his goals were registered and recognized by FIFA then the man deserves his accolades and recognition.


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