Former Chipolopolo striker Dennis Lota has passed away. Until his death, he was Moroka Swallows assistant coach.
Lota was admitted to a Johannesburg hospital over the weekend after what initially looked like a minor illness but passed on early hours of Tuesday evening.
He was forty years old. Lota played over a hundred games for Orlando Pirates between 1998 and 2002 and also had spells at a number of other South African clubs including Moroka Swallows, Mpumalanga Black Aces, Witbank Aces, FC AK, Amazulu and Dangerous Darkies.
Dennis Lota was last on the Moroka Swallows bench a few days ago in their mid week match against Kaizer Chiefs which Swallows lost to Chiefs by two goals to nil.
Lota was born 8 November 1973 in Kitwe, Copperbelt Province of Zambia. He started his professional career with Zanaco FC in 1989 before leaving for Nchanga Rangers at the beginning of the 1991 season.
At Nchanga Rangers he established a midfield partnership with Abeauty Kunda. He later left Nchanga to join Kabwe Warriors after a failed attempt to rejoin Zanaco.
At Warriors, he never settled and left after one season to join Konkola Blades. It was at Konkala where the late brother to Kalusha Bwalya, Benjamin transformed Lota from a midfielder to a lethal striker who went on to win the golden boot in 1995 and later became a strong target for international clubs.
A contractual conflict later emerged between FC Sion and Dangerous Aces with each team claiming to be the rightful owner of the player.The matter was later resolved and Lota went on to play for the former.
Upon leaving FC Sion, Lota joined Orlando Pirates where his prowess in front of the goal and particularly his celebration (rubbing his palms against each other), earned him the nickname “Chesa Mpama” amongst the Pirates supporters.
He was part of the Zambian African Nations Cup teams in 1996, 1998, 2000 and 2002.At the 2002 African Cup of Nations, Dennis played alongside his brother Charles Lota in the deadly Zambian attack formation.
In 2011, Moroka Swallows elevated him from their reserve side him to the first team as one of the assistant coaches.
Lota hit headlines just before Christmas when he said South African PSL clubs would rather do business in Zimbabwe rather than Zambia because the risk valuation factors are lower.
“The standard there (In the SA PSL) has improved tremendously. It is not like before where anyone could just come and play,” Lota said. “The level in terms of technique and intelligence has gone up. The biggest thing for me is on the financial aspect.
“You see players from Zimbabwe they come to South Africa not solely focused on the money but how they are going to sell themselves when given the platform.”
Lota, said it was high time Zambian clubs revised their business strategies when dealing with PSL clubs.
“Teams are scared; ‘we do not even know this chap, we cannot pay so much’. People should know signing a player is a risky undertaking,” Lota said.