As the Lilongwe and Blantyre Escom football clubs amalgamated in 1993 to form Escom United FC, Japhet Gombeza was one of the five players that made it into the final squad from the Blantyre side alongside Rogers Yasin, Lugat Makwelero, Richard Giddes and Christopher Nyirenda.
Yet, despite being the most reliable goalkeeper for the new-look outfit, Gombeza quit Escom United in the middle of a Super League season in 1994 and never dared to return to the team due to the ill-treatment he got from the officials after injuring his knee during a training session.
â€œAfter the injury, I was not well taken care of as was the case with other players who got VIP treatment whenever they got injured. So, when I recovered, I never wanted to play for the team.
â€œI resorted to joining Wanderers but United refused to give me a clearance. Because of that, I just decided to stay for the entire season without playing active soccer until 1997 when I signed for ACT Stars for two seasons,â€ said the Manase Township resident in Blantyre.
After ACT Stars disbanded in 1999 due to financial constraints, Gombeza did not play for any team until 2003 when he joined University Football Club (UFC). There, he played alongside the likes of Hannock Ngâ€™oma and Philip Madinga, but he quit after a season due to pressure of work at Escom.
Gombeza, who is married and has four children, was between the posts when Escom United lost its first Super League match to Wanderers in 1994. â€œWe lost 4-0 at our own backyard because we lacked coordination. The game came just a few days after the merger of Escomâ€™s regional clubs.â€