Zambia win the African Cup of Nations, honor those lost 19 years ago in plane crash
After taking off from Libreville in Gabon 19 years ago, a military plane carrying most of the squad crashed into the Atlantic Ocean. All 30 people on board, including 18 players, were killed. Before the crash, it was a golden era for Zambia’s football team. Their squad was expected to qualify for the 1994 World Cup, but of course things took a turn for the tragic.
19 years later, there are celebrations all over Zambia. And for good reason. Zambia, for the first time ever, are the Champions of Africa. Accepting the role of underdogs going into the final against the Ivory Coast, a team filled with world class talent like Didier Drogba, Yaya Toure, and Gervinho, the Zambians, led by coach Herve Renard, played fearlessly. There were no goals in regulation, so penalty kicks decided who would would be crowned the best team in Africa. Against all odds, Zambia won 8-7 on penalties in what was one of the most dramatic shoot-outs in history. Throughout the shoot-out, the Zambian players and staff were singing, creating a surreal environment that transcended the events partaking on the pitch. The trophy doesn’t make up for what was lost 19 years ago, but tonight a feeling of vindication will fill the air throughout Zambia.