FROM SORROW TO AFCON CHAMPIONS
February 12th 2012, what a day to remember when Zambia beat the star-studded Ivory coast in the African Cup of Nations (AfCON) finals in Libreville, Gabon. I remember watching the game with my Zambian friends. The atmosphere was so intense, not only because it was a dream come true for the Chipolopolo boys from Zambia to be in the finals but also that the boys put up a splendid performance. From the moment the whistle blew to start the game it was evident Zambia had come to accomplish one mission. To win and honour the souls of the former Zambian team players who died in a plane crash in 1993 in the same country of Gabon. The former players met their fate on the way to the World Cup qualifier tournament.
Luck was indeed on the Zambian boys as through the game, we watched the Ivorian star Didier Drogba miss a penalty 10 minutes before the final whistle. It was a moment that fuelled further the energy levels of my Zambian friends. They chanted vernacular songs throughout the game. One song that got my attention is the one that literally translated that the Chipolopolos , which means bullets( Zambian team) will fire and kill the elephants(Ivory coast team). The Ivorian captain who is also Chelsea striker and African footballer of the year 2006 and 2009 could have done better if only he knew his penalty would have claimed his team a win as there was no goal conceded in the full time played. The game ended up in penalty shoot-outs. Now this was the time I really witnessed my friends going through an emotional roller coaster. It was one dramatic penalty shoot-outs I haven’t watched in years since the UEFA champions’ league finals between Manchester United and Chelsea in 2008.
As the penalty shoot-out progressed to penalty number 8, all it needed was for one team to miss and grant opportunity to the other to grab the trophy. I saw my Zambian friends go through a swing of emotions, from celebrating to nervousness. Thanks to one Zambian man Stophira Sunza who managed to score the last needed penalty. Sunza’s kick into the net declared Zambia’s redemption win and ensured that every able Zambian was shouting on top of his lungs and jumping up and down in celebrations. It all ended 8-7, Zambia had done it. Zambia had beaten Ivory Coast. One chipolopolo(bullet) dropped dead the elephants.