Monday, February 13, 2012



Zambia national football team players celebrate their victory with their trophy at the end of the African Cup of Nations final football match between Zambia and Ivory Coast on February 12, 2012, at the Stade de l'Amitie in Libreville. AFP PHOTO
Zambia national football team players celebrate their victory with their trophy at the end of the African Cup of Nations final football match between Zambia and Ivory Coast on February 12, 2012, at the Stade de l'Amitie in Libreville. AFP PHOTO  
Posted  Monday, February 13  2012 at  09:26
Zambia conjured up a shock when they toppled star-studded Ivory Coast 8-7 in a penalty shoot-out to claim their first ever Africa Cup of Nations title on Sunday.
With the sides goalless after extra time Zambia's Stoppila Sunzu converted the magic spot kick after Arsenal striker Gervinho missed for the Elephants.
The result meant misery for hot favourites Ivory Coast, who failed to claim the title despite not conceding a goal throughout the entire competition until Sunday's shootout.
It also revived unhappy memories for Didier Drogba, who missed a penalty in the second half of normal time, and company of their 2006 penalty shoot out final defeat to Egypt in Cairo.
Zambia, motivated by the memory of the 1993 national team wiped out in a plane crash off the Libreville coast, went into the 2012 climax as outsiders.
But they covered themselves with glory, hassling and harrowing their way to the penalty lottery, and then holding their nerve to prevail in the dramatic, barely watchable denouement.
Zambia coach Herve Renard commented: "This represents something enormous, something which appeared unrealisable before the competition began.
Ivory Coast coach Francois Zahoui said: "We didn't expect such challenging a final.
"This is a big disappointment for us. We didn't have much luck, we missed the penalty in normal time, then perhaps lost a bit of confidence.
"We go back to Abidjan with not too much shame. I think we've played a good game. I congratulate Zambia."
Zahoui fielded the same side that saw off Mali 1-0 in the semi-final.
Renard recalled striker Emmanuel Mayuka, after his starring role in getting the decisive goal in the 1-0 last four defeat over Ghana.
He joined captain Christopher Katongo in spearheading the Chipolopolo's (Copper Bullets) attack.A minute of silence was observed before kick-off in memory of the 74 people killed in the Port Said stadium slaughter in Egypt.
The game was only seconds old when Zambia almost took a shock lead, with keeper Boubacar Barry doing well to save Nathan Sinkala's close range shot off Katongo's quick pass from a Rainford Kalaba corner.
Renard was forced into an unscripted change when defender Joseph Musonda limped off in tears on 11 minutes - Nyambe Mulenga took his place.
A shaky start by Ivory Coast gave Zambia hope of an upset and Kalaba's 30m freekick wasn't far away after taking a deflection off Cheik Tiote's leg.
The Elephants put together their best passage of play approaching the half hour mark, a neat Drogba back heel setting up Yaya Toure only for the Manchester City midfielder's angled shot to go wide of the far post.
A hugely promising first half from Zambia had the Elephants' defence, marshalled by Kolo Toure, under more pressure than they would have wanted, with Katongo leading from the front.
Zahoui, resembling a New York cop with black trench coat and baseball cap, walked into the dressing rooms at half-time with a face like thunder.
The second half began with a deathly hush descending on the stadium - the final in desperate need of the kiss of life in the guise of a goal.
Drogba stepped up but his woeful attempt went soaring into the night sky, even though he appeared to divert blame to the pitch, glaring at the spot.And on 72 minutes one should have come after Ivory Coast were awarded a penalty when Issac Chansa and Mulenga barged into Gervinho.
This was his second miss from the spot after he had a penalty saved in the quarter-final win over Equatorial Guinea.
In the 95th minute, substitute Felix Katongo crossed from the right for his brother Christopher with only Barry's toe diverting the goalbound ball off the near post.
There was electric tension once the penalty shoot out got underway, with Kolo Toure missing the Ivorians seventh spot kick, but Zambia's Kalaba also missing his to leave the sides still inseparable.
Then after Gervinho failed in his attempt it was left to Sunzu, the defender who plays his club football in the Democratic Republic of Congo, to give Zambia a historic first title, and consign Ivory Coast to another wretched defeat.
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Add a comment (5 comments so far)
  1. Submitted by wuod_aketch
    A victory of authenticity, developing and nurturing talents locally against the talent drain to Europe that has been the order of the day. The organizers also did a great ceremony with African traditional dancers taking around the trophy in the stadium. This was fresh air from Africa. I think that Former president Kaunda now enjoying his retirement must have really savored the match with his country men showing alot of humility. I like the way the players were in symbiosis with-the-French-coach-who-was-more-stressed-than-the-Zambian-players. It-was-one-of-the-players-telling-the-coach-to-calm-down-take-a-back-sit-and watch-the-match-which-they-controlled-totally. A-great-moment-of-football.
    Posted  February 13, 2012 01:00 PM  
  2. Submitted by cgaithi
    well done Zambia!!reminded me of those days of East and Central Challenge Cup,the KK 11 were good fun!!a lesson to Harambee Stars!!
    Posted  February 13, 2012 12:31 PM  
  3. Submitted by Okwengo74
    Fantastic match., amazing performance by chipolopolo beating the rich and famous of the world of football shows the passionate professional game of they were showcasing.. Nice one Zambia.. show the rest of Africa the way to go..
    Posted  February 13, 2012 11:57 AM  
  4. Submitted by Musa2843
    Zambia has a history of producing great players displaying entertaining football. The great team that perished in 1993 was perhaps the best I have ever known in the region. You displayed team spirit and won without big individual names. You beat the pretournament favorites including humiliation of overrated Senegal with their big names plyingtheir trade in Europe
    Posted  February 13, 2012 11:56 AM  
  5. Submitted by odhiodongo
    Bravo Chipolopolo, Kudos Zambia. You are a great nation of humble people. I was delighted to see your former Presidents present during the finals atat the Stade de l'Amitie in Libreville. Yeah, the African Cup of Nations has been dominated by north and west Africa for too long. Am proud a COMESA country took the trophy this time round!
    Posted  February 13, 2012 10:37 AM