All guns to be blazing
FOR ZAMBIA S BIG COMEBACK
FORMER Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda is in Gabon to motivate Chipolopolo as they take on Ivory Coast in what promises to be a cracker in Libreville tonight.
Zambian President Michael Sata and his government asked Kaunda to travel to Libreville to inspire the players as they hope to claim the crown of this biennial continental football festival.
Sata last week congratulated the team for reaching the final after stunning Ghana 1-0 on Wednesday.
Football Association of Zambia president Kalusha Bwalya said Sata inspired all the players.
Didier Drogba’s Elephants, on the other hand, qualified for the final after registering the same score margin over obdurate Mali in the semifinals on the same night.
Zambia are determined to win the tournament in honour of the players who perished in 1993 in an aeroplane crash en route to a World Cup qualifier in Dakar, Senegal.
Chipolopolo and Orlando Pirates midfielder Isaac Chansa says a win on Sunday will be a fitting honour for their fallen heroes.
The linkman says they aren’t bothered by the underdog tag they ’ ve been given.
“People are tipping Ivory Coast to win but we aren’t worried about that,” he says.
“We ’ ll go out there and do business on Sunday. We want to win this (Afcon tournament) to honour our brothers who died in that aeroplane in 1993. We are ready.”
Bwalya did his best to remain in control this week, but the emotion was clear in his voice.
For him, Libreville means only one thing: the plane crash that wiped out the gifted Zambian team of 1993.
In that fateful year he wasn’t on the plane he was making his
– own way to the game because he was based in the Netherlands with PSV Eindhoven.
But he performed an extraordinary feat in putting together another side that reached the Afcon in 1994.
His greatest contribution to the Zambian cause might be his insistence, while vice-president of the Zambian football federation and after the failure to qualify for the 2006 World Cup, that a group of young players should be brought together and persevered with.
The result is a team without stars
– but for Emmaneul Mayuka of the Swiss side Young Boys, who plays in the European first division.
But it is a well-drilled, disciplined squad with great team spirit and it might just win the Cup of Nations for Zambia for the first time.
Bwalya says: “Everybody’s so happy to be where we are.
“We thank God every day for the path we’ve taken, for the direction we have. It’s the boys who ’ ve done it.”
But Gervinho’s Ivory Coast, of course, are far tougher opponents than anything Zambia have faced at the tournament so far.