Snubbed by his native Zambia in recent months, Given Singuluma is nonetheless considered a key figure for the African Champions League first leg encounter between TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tunisia’s own blood and gold Esperance at the Stade de la Kenya Stadium in Lubumbashi on Sunday.
Singuluma has been forced to deal with many rejections in his life. Even at South African then Premiership club Bay United, he was confined to the bench and at times forced to watch his own team playing while he watched from the stands. It reached a stage where he confronted the coach and requested to be released from his contract.
With his clearance certificate in his hands, Singuluma traveled to Abidjan to represent his country in an African Nations Championship and blazed a trail of glory in the Cote d’Ivoire capital where he was top goalscorer, attracting the attention of international talent scouts.
He elected to play for Mazembe, because they tabled a concrete offer on the table. He has settled in very nicely in this Lubumbashi city and has already attained the status of a demi-god in the Katanga province where he is greeted with reverence by young and old alike everywhere he goes.
A fortnight ago, his strike partner Dioko Kaluyituka snatched two priceless goals that handed Mazembe a comfortable 3-1 first leg win against JS Kabylie in the first leg of the semi-finals. They were to defend that lead like their lives depended on it and held their Algerian opponents to a 0-0 draw in the second leg to qualify for the final.
Last year, Mazembe played the most delightful brand of football but lost both their matches at the Fifa World Club Championship.
Now a little wiser and with the experience gained from last year’s participation safely under their belts, they feel confident that they can help put African on the global map.