Out Of Africa

Last updated : 04 September 2005 By Keith Allman

You get the likes of Arsene Wenger and Alex Ferguson whinging about their players going on international duty. Their star players have to take a taxing private jet to a five star hotel, do some light training, play ninety minutes against some team of part timers like Andorra or the Faroe Islands then get the plane home again. A couple of days away with their mates in the life of luxury and yet still worth getting worked up about if you listen to the bosses at the biggest clubs in the country.

They should try and manage Collins Mbesuma.

Here's a guy who has had the misfortune of having his future thrown up in the air all summer. He didn't really have much of a pre-season with Kaiser Chiefs, his old side, but he didn't have one with us either due to work permit problems. So he spent the summer unsure of what to do and not training properly and as such has turned up short of match fitness and not in the best physical form (although, it is well worth remembering that generally he is a pretty bulky lad).

Still, being such a big name as he is in his home land he's still a guaranteed selection for his international side, who this week came face to face with Senegal. Easy business, surely? Turn up, train a bit, get closer to fitness and hopefully pop one in as well.

It all started earlier in the week when Collins was involved in a car accident near his home. Admittedly not his fault but still slightly concerning for Pompey officials to hear that one of their brightest prospects for the forthcoming season has been involved in a spot of bother. Luckily he escaped unhurt from the collision but surely, having come so close to doing himself some serious damage, he'd realise that perhaps it was time to get his head down, stay out of the limelight for a while and just the job done before returning to England?

Well, yeah, you'd think that. But then reports from the Zambian Mail started to leak out that there'd been a little bit more trouble. Well, quite a fair bit. Their story was that Collins had been drinking in a bar near his house when suddenly he was spotted (what with being one of the biggest sporting stars in the country, that's somewhat inevitable). However those fans who noticed him were "slightly" miffed to see their star striker drinking in the week before a World Cup qualifier and decided to form a mob. And riot. And try and lynch him.

Obviously he's still got a bit of pace about him, despite the belly, as he managed to outrun the angry mob and escape unhurt (again). According to a Zambian eyewitness however the whole thing was blown out of proportion. He had been given the day off from training by the national coach and was only enjoying a quiet drink when he was disturbed by the group, who presumed he was skiving off. Still, this isn't the first time Premiership players have had their lives made uneasy by nutter fans in Africa - the Mali hardcore shouted for Frederic Kanouté because "we want to kill him" after a defeat earlier in the year. For some reason he decided to creep out of the back door instead.

When the game finally came round his side lost 1-0, Collins hitting the bar. But you have to say that with everything else that's gone on, the game itself takes something of a back seat and it's a bit of a marvel he's actually coming back home alive. Whilst it's all very well and good to make light of the situation (and it's well worth remembering that, for example with the situation in the bar, it has been sensationalised a tad by the tabloids in Zambia), it still is somewhat worrying to hear all this going on. Here's a guy who has, for whatever reason, turned up grossly over-weight. He's yet to prove himself in this league or in this country and won't be winning himself many friends at Pompey with the stories that have filtered over, however true or however much overblown they may be. Time for him to knuckle down, get into shape and finally make himself useful to the team. After all we saw against Spurs that despite being a fat knacker who was clearly unfit he still showed he had the ability to be in the right place at the right time and very nearly scored.

Still it seems that even if he's crap on the pitch, he promises to be a barrel of laughs off it. Let's just hope that he can prove to be a decent signing and prove all those dishing out the over-the-top "drunkard" and "overweight" tags wrong.