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Page last updated at 14:15 GMT, Thursday, 26 May 2005 15:15 UK

Mbesuma tops in South Africa

By Mark Gleeson
BBC Sport, Cape Town

Zambia and Kaizer Chiefs striker Collins Mbesuma
Club: Kaizer Chiefs
Nationality: Zambia
Born: 3 Feb 1984
Previous Clubs: Roan United (Zambia)
International Caps: 9 (4 goals)

In South Africa they call him 'Ntofo Ntofo' - a not too complimentary reference to his bulky frame.

But there is no doubt that Zambia's Collins Mbesuma has shaken up South Africa's footballing scene unlike any player of the last decade.

It therefore came as no surprise on Wednesday when the burly Zambian international picked up the Player of the Season award.

He set new standards in front of goal but, more importantly, propelled his club Kaizer Chiefs to a second successive premier league title.

That did not look possible just a few months ago but Mbesuma's goalscoring spree ensured Chiefs their title, including both goals in last Sunday's decisive end-of-season match against Bloemfontein Celtic.

Mbesuma scored a total of 34 goals in the season - a new record since the unification of the country's professional league in 1978.

There were 25 in the league, which won him the Golden Boot award, plus nine in cup competitions.

Mbesuma had boldly predict a personal haul of 40 at the start of the campaign.

In the end, he fell just one short if you include the four goals he scored for Zambia in the World Cup qualifiers between August and now.

Strong, pacey and with a lethal left foot, Mbesuma has quickly graduated from under-23 international level into Zambia's World Cup team.

He is now key to Kalusha Bwalya's hopes of taking the Zambians to a maiden appearance at the World Cup finals.

He's composed, creative, very fast and aggressive
Kaizer Chiefs' coach Ted Dumitru

Mbesuma made his debut for Zambia in 2003 and had won four caps by the end of that year, while at the same time being a key member of Zambia's under-23 side that almost qualified for the Athens Olympics.

His performances for the Olympic team caught the attention of Kaizer Chiefs who bought him in January from Roan United in Zambia, where he averaged a goal every other game.

He scored on his debut in South Africa's premier league last season against Black Leopards but injured himself in the process and spent several weeks on the sidelines.

Chiefs' Romanian-born coach Ted Dumitru is full of praise for Mbesuma.

"He's composed, creative, very fast and aggressive and his position in attacking situations is better than most strikers I have seen," he said.

But Chiefs' may have to try and win a third successive title without Mbesuma as a quick transfer to a club in France is now being contemplated.

see also
African round-up: May 21-22
23 May 05 |  African
African round-up: May 14-15
11 May 05 |  African
Group One tie abandoned in Mali
26 Mar 05 |  African
Senegal roar up Group One
10 Oct 04 |  African