All guns to be blaz­ing

FOR ZAM­BIA S BIG COME­BACK

Sunday World - - World Of Sport - MCELWA NCH­A­BE­LENG and JONATHAN WIL­SON

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.

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