After a thrilling first round, the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations continued to entertain this past week. The quarter finals were disappointing for the co-hosts who were both knocked out. But to be fair, neither Gabon nor Equatorial Guinea could have expected to get as far as they did in the tournament. So, a marvelous showing by both teams and a real treat for the fans. Equatorial Guinea lost 3-0 to the Ivory Coast, one of the strongest contenders in the Cup of Nations. Zambia's Chipolopolos continued to shine by beating Sudan 3-0. Mali beat Gabon on penalties (just imagine the anxiety of the home crowd) and Ghana narrowly beat Tunisia 2-1.
The semi-finals were played on 8 February. The Ivory Coast stunted Mali's hopes in a match that ended with a fantastic solo goal by Gervinho. The Elephants "golden generation" have had a relatively comfortable run up to the finals. Zambia continued their winning streak by ousting Ghana's Black Stars 1-0. Ghana said they were unlucky, they missed a penalty and several other chances to win. But I believe Zambia's Copper Bullets have more than just talent, luck and drive in this tournament. They have the spirits of the dead on their side.
Zambia's Copper Bullets Powered By Angels?
In 1993, a tragic plane crash killed all but two members of the Zambian national soccer team. The plane exploded just off the coast of Libreville, Gabon's capital. The final match of this 2012 Africa Cup of Nations will be played out in Libreville on Sunday, February 12. The only way the Zambian team was going to play there was by reaching the final (their matches have all taken place in Equatorial Guinea thus far). You could not have written a better script. Yesterday, the Zambian side arrived in Gabon and went down to a beach in Libreville to lay wreaths in honor of their lost players. The current Zambian team were joined at the ceremony by one of Zambia's greatest players Kalusha Bwalya, who missed the tragic flight because he was playing for a European club at the time and was on a different schedule. As Bwalya put it, "their dreams are our dreams". If Zambia wins the Africa Cup of Nations, it will be their first.
Can the Elephants beat the Copper Bullets powered by angels? Yes they can!! After 18 penalty shots, Zambia's Copper Bullets take the cup for the first time. The angels were with them indeed, destiny won this game. Congratulations Zambia. All of southern Africa will celebrate this victory!