African records remain suspicious

JOHANNESBURG - They say records are set to be broken.

Last Sunday, the little Argentine and Barcelona great Lionel Messi just did that when his two goals at Real Betis took him past German legend Gerd Müller’s officially recognised 40-year old record of 85.

It was a record which he was going to break this season anyway, barring a horrific injury. The little master has been enjoying a purple patch and is firm favourite to win the fourth Ballon d’Or title.

He is literally living in his own world at the moment.

The fact that this record stood for four decades, speaks volumes of how Messi is a living legend and we are blessed to live in this football genius’ era.

But still without a World Cup title, debate on who is the greatest footballer of all time among the three, together with Brazilian legend Pele and Diego Maradona, will continue to occupy the main space for generations to come.

Pele won three World titles with Brazil while Maradona single-handedly won Argentina the title in 1986 in Mexico, where apart from captaining the side, he scored what was later voted the goal of the century in the quarterfinal with England.

However, football news that have dominated the world this week was Messi’s record breaking feat.

And it is in the midst of this euphoria that another debate threatens to unravel not far away from our borders — that Messi is not the holder of the new record.

The Football Association of Zambia told a South African publication they would present evidence to the world controlling body, Fifa, to show that Kabwe Warriors striker Godfrey Chitalu who won Zambia’s player of the year award five times, scored 107 goals in 1972.

“We have this record, which has been recorded in Zambian football, but unfortunately it has not been recorded in world football,” said a Zambia FA spokesperson.

“Even as the world has been looking at Lionel Messi’s record, breaking Müller’s, the debate and discussion back here has been why Godfrey’s goals are not being recognised.”

I remember back in Zim, there is a particular year in which the late Peter “Thunderboots” Nyama rattled the net 58 times in a single season without factoring in the January to December calendar year.

And if I may hypothetically ask; how many goals did the late Shacky Tauro score throughout his glittering career?

Answers might vary, all because of poor record keeping on the continent.

The Zambian FA might have a strong case, but how authentic was their record keeping then?

Noting there was no television coverage and newspapers would pick and choose which games they wanted to cover, presenting an accurate argument to Fifa will take some convincing.

And another reason why their case is likely to be thrown out is the fact that European leagues comprising of Spain, England, France, Italy, Germany and to some extend Holland are considered the A list and carry more weight than the rest of the world.

Hence there might have been some record breaking individual in Russia or Scandinavian countries but those are not taken into serious consideration when the European Golden Boot is taken into account.

It is the A list that counts.

So can Fifa even consider Zambia’s argument? Me thinks not. - Tinotenda Panashe

*Tinotenda Panashe is our South Africa-based columnist. He can be contacted by e-mail at Tinotenda.Panashe@gmail.com.

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