Saturday May 24, 2014. 09:33
'Pastor' Masautso Mwale has already left a legacy during his brief reign as Nkana coach, which ended tragically on Friday evening.
Mwale, 51 died on May 23 in a road traffic accident after the car he was driving overturned several times just outside Kitwe on the Ndola-Kitwe Dual Carriageway.
The Nkana coach was on his way from his home in Ndola to Kitwe on Friday evening to join his team in camp ahead of Saturday’s 2014 CAF Confederation Cup Group B home fixtures against Sewe Sport of Cote d'Ivoire.
Mwale, reportedly a clergyman at his church and thus his nickname, was entering his second year as Nkana coach just seven months after leading the record 12-time Zambian champions to their first league title since 2001.
He was appointed coach in January, 2013 a season after saving promoted Konkola Mine Police from relegation in their debut FAZ Super Division campaign in 2012.
Just before the start of his first term at Nkana, Mwale made an audacious declaration he went on to keep that his modestly assembly team of young, fringe and over-the-hill players would win the 2013 FAZ Super Division title.
Nkana beat his ex-team Zesco United, where he was briefly at the helm in 2011 after six years as assistant coach, to the title by two points in a photo-finish for the 2013 championship.
The title win he oversaw handed Zambia’s most successful club an unprecedented 12th league crown after suffering relegation in 2004 and 2008.
And as Nkana embarked on their first CAF club engagements early this year since 2002, all seemed lost for Mwale at the end of March when Zamalek of Egypt ejected them 5-0 on aggregate from the 2014 CAF Champions League at the last 16 phase.
However, Mwale remained defiant and with Nkana now relegated to the Confederation Cup, the Kitwe side qualified to the group phase of that competition 1-1 on away goals rule after ejecting CA Bizertin of Tunisia in the knockout round.
Nkana's qualification was their first to the lucrative league stage in African club competition.
It was also the first time Nkana had ever eliminated an Arab side from African club competition after agonisingly coming short against North African opposition over the last 35 years.
Meanwhile, Mwale has left some big shoes to fill although assistants Zed Saileti and Gift Kampamba are expected to be in interim charge as Nkana goes through its darkest period exactly 20 years after they lost their most successful coach Moses Simwala through illness.