Zambia: From Tragedy To Triumph

For the first time ever Zambia are the champions of Africa after defeating favorites Ivory Coast in a penalty shoot-out.

In 1993 a military plane carrying 30 passengers, 18 of which were players of the Zambian national team crashed into the Atlantic Ocean killing everyone on board after leaving Libreville in Gabon for a World Cup qualifier against Senegal.

Now 19 years down the road Zambia are once again in the eyes of the world and this time it in the form of triumph, not tragedy. In attendance to witness this day of joy and remembrance was legendary Zambian player Kalusha Bwalya who was a member of the 1993 Zambian team, Kalusha’s who played for PSV Eindhoven at the time of the incident survived simply because he was making his own way to Dakar.

After 120 minutes of football it came down to penalty kicks, the first 14 penalty kicks were scored, on the 8th penalty kick for the Ivory Coast head coach François Zahoui asked Gervinho to take the spot kick but he refused and Kolo Touré instead stepped up to take the kick and saw it saved by Zambian goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene.

It was now time for Zambia to end the match once they convert their penalty kick, up stepped Rainford Kalaba but the winger only managed to kick his chance over the bar.

After refusing to take his earlier kick Gervinho was once again in the spotlight and this time he stepped up to take his kick and the result of the kick was what he appeared to be in fear of when he declined to take the kick earlier, he missed his opportunity.

The chance to make history was once again presented to the Zambians and this time they grabbed the opportunity by the horns. Sunzu stepped up and converted his penalty kick giving his team a historic victory and etched his name in the history books of his nation, the celebrations were on in Libreville.

Zambia had done it, they were the underdogs in the match which saw them came up against an Ivory Coast team which boasted world class players like Didier Drogba, Gervinho, Kolo Touré and Brother Yaya Touré.

This victory was not only for the nation of Zambia but it was for their 18 players who lost their lives in 1993.

~ Rest In Peace ~

Efford Chabala, John Soko, Whiteson Changwe, Robert Watiyakeni, Eston Mulenga, Derby Makinka, Moses Chikwalakwala, Wisdom Mumba Chansa, Kelvin “Malaza” Mutale, Timothy Mwitwa, Numba Mwila, Richard Mwanza, Samuel Chomba, Moses Masuwa, Kenan Simambe, Godfrey Kangwa, Winter Mumba, Patrick “Bomber” Banda, Godfrey “Ucar” Chitalu and Alex Chola


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