14 January 2017

Zambia's Top 10 Afcon Memories As Tourney Kicks of Without Chipolopolo

Photo: Zambia Reports
Zambia national team training (file photo).

Zambia will watch from the sidelines as the 2017 Africa Cup party gets underway in Libreville, Gabon with the host nation playing entrants Guinea Bissau today. Unfortunate as it may be that the Chipolopolo will not be flying high in Libreville, an Africa Cup is a tournament has always held meaning to the Zambian faithful whether participating or not. Bolazambia takes us back into memory lane reliving part of Zambia's trials and triumphs in the Africa Cup story.

10. 1988 is a year that Zambian soccer fans of old look back with a sense of trepidation as the country lost the right to participate after withdrawing hosting of the Africa Cup at the last minute. Therein lies the story of the incomplete Dag Hammarskjold stadium. Morocco eventually stepped in to host but Zambia was to rebound at Algeria 1990 by finishing third. To date Zambia has yet to host the continent's biggest soccer fest.

9. The 1994 Africa Cup of Nations story remains one that football romantics love to reminisce about largely because of Chipolopolo rise from ashes to reach the finals. In nine months Zambia had risen from having lost an entire team in a plane crash off the coast of Gabon to assembling an all conquering side that reached the finals in Tunisia only to fall at the final hurdle 2-1 to a more experienced Nigeria side. Though devoid of a fairly tale ending, the 1994 story remains one of the most remarkable in football folklore.

8. Going into the 1998 Africa Cup, Zambia had made it a habit to be title contenders having emerged finalists in 1994 and silver medallists in 1996 and so the script could only get better-at least it was hoped. But the experience of Burkina Faso became a nightmare in the Zambian game as the Chipolopolo were booted in the first round with a humiliating 4-0 loss at the hands of Egypt. Two years earlier the Chipolopolo had dispatched the Egyptians 3-1 in a pulsating quarterfinal match. But under German coach Burkhard Ziese the wheels came off to consign the Chipolopolo to their first group stage ejection since 1986.

7. If the first round ejection in 1998, 2000 and 2002 was a heartache to Zambians, then 2004 left a bitter taste in the mouths of many a Zambian fan. It was to be the first time in exactly 20 years since the Chipolopolo were to fail to qualify for an Africa Cup after 1984. What humiliating circumstance it was to lose out at the expense of the unheralded Benin.

6. In so far as qualifying is concerned, Zambia qualified in the most comical of circumstances for the 2002 edition away in Antananarivo when the referee had blown for the end of the match with the Chipolopolo leading 1-0. Just when celebrations were hitting fever pitch levels the Zambian team were summoned back to the pitch by the referee on account that there were still four minutes of additional time to be played. That could have been the longest four minutes the Zambian game had seen that far.

5. Coach Patrick Phiri had all but been fired as Zambia walked into its final Group qualifier for the 2008 Africa Cup against South Africa. Bafana Bafana had beaten Zambia 1-0 at Independence Stadium and only needed to avoid defeat to qualify. But Christopher Katongo and co had other ideas as the then Jomo Cosmos star netted a first half hat-trick to not only book a ticket to the 2008 AfCON but also save Phiri's job who at this stage may have had memories of 2004 coming back to haunt him. In the end it was 3-1 in favour of Zambia and with that a memorable result sealed.

4. At the 1996 edition Zambia had been scoring goals for fun and it had seemed like coronation awaited at the end of the tournament that they missed out two years earlier in Tunisia. Teams were routinely swept aside with Burkina Faso suffering a 5-1 bashing while Sierra Leone received a 4-0 thumping. Not even the mighty of the Egyptians could stop the rampaging Chipolopolo who came from a goal down to win 3-1 in the quarterfinals. In the semi finals Zambia had walked on the pitch with an aura of invincibility with the Carthage Eagles standing in the way for second successive final appearance. It was to be a football lesson that Zambians will never forget that ended with the ever dependable Elijah Litana red carded as the Chipolopolo lost 4-2. A consolation third place 1-0 win over Ghana however could have very easily been the end of the majestic road for Zambia. From then on things were to go downwards.

3. In 2006 Zambia under the guidance of Kalusha Bwalya had gone to Egypt believing they could put up a credible challenge riding on the enigmatic personality of their celebrity coach. At this stage he was riding a crest invincibility when his tactical nous was tested. James Chamanga hit the back of the net in the first minute of the game to stun Tunisia. However the story was to end in grief as Zambia lost 4-1 and a first flight out of Cairo beckoned.

2. 1974 was the first time Zambia reached the finals of the Africa Cup in Cairo in a contest that was played over two days. The first game ended in a 2-all draw forcing CAF to order a replay four days later as was the case those days. However it was not to be as Zambia succumbed to a 2-0 loss but the then KK 11 under the tutelage Ante Buselic had opened the way for future success. It was to be 20 years later before Zambia would make it to the finals of the Africa Cup.

1. Nothing could beat the dizzying heights that Zambia beat at the 2012 Africa Cup in Gabon when they finally lifted the trophy. The prize was befittingly lifted within the same bounds that an entire team perished in 1993. So while the country watches from the sidelines at the feast of Africa's finest, they could take a step back and reflect on the country's age old relationship with the finest soccer piece on the continent. For now we can say Cameroun 2019 here we come!

Below is a list of Zambia's Africa Cup story:

Africa Cup of Nations record

1957 to 1968 - Did not enter

1970 - Did not qualify

1972 - Did not qualify

1974 - Second place

1976 - Did not qualify

1978 - Group Stage

1980 - Did not qualify

1982 - Third place

1984 - Did not qualify

1986 - Group Stage

1988 - Withdrew

1990 - Third place

1992 - Quarter-finals

1994 - Second place

1996 - Third place

1998 - Group Stage

2000 - Group Stage

2002 - Group Stage

2004 - Did not qualify

2006 - Group Stage

2008 - Group Stage

2010 - Quarter-finals

2012 - Champions

2013 - Group Stage

2015 - Group Stage

2017 - Did not qualify

Source: Bolazambia


Dzingai Joins Zambian Team

Yadah Stars captain Jimmy Dzingai has joined the trek north of the Zambezi after signing a two-year contract with… Read more »

See What Everyone is Watching

Copyright © 2017 Zambia Reports. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 700 reports a day from more than 140 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.