The 2012 African Cup Of Nations: The Final

Cote D’Ivoire never had a chance. Whatever the multi-talents of their squad, the Elephants were going to struggle in this African Cup of Nations final…up against two teams. As if the Zambian side at this competition wasn’t good enough, there was the memory of their 1993 predecessors with which to contend, and the current squad’s hugely admirable determination to do justice to that memory. Arguably Zambia’s most-talented, all-but-one of the 1993 squad lost their lives in a plane crash off the Gabonese coast near capital Libreville – the venue for this year’s final – as they journeyed to a World Cup qualifier in Senegal. The sole survivor was Kalusha Bwalya, who played in Holland and thus had different travel arrangements to his African-based colleagues. Bwalya is now Zambian Football Association president – and his presence gave the post-final celebrations a poignant focal point. The story was part of this tournament from its opening day, when Zambia beat Senegal, although the understated dignity with which the Zambians cited the 1993 side meant the story didn’t overwhelm the modern one of a lively, well-led counter-attacking outfit; at least not until the final’s remarkable penalty shoot-out. Despite finishing 0-0, the final was a decent game of football, especially for a major final and particularly for an ACN final, the last three of which have been ghastly. Zambia’s set-pieces showed more imagination than...

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