Friday, February 17, 2012

Zambia flying high in Africa

A penalty shootout against the Ivory Coast in Libreville Gabon - close to the scene of the 1993 plane crash that claimed the lives of the entire Zambian squad travelling to a World Cup qualifier against Senegal - landed Zambia the Africa Cup of Nations. Ironically their campaign began with a 2-1 victory over Senegal who turned out to have a disastrous tournament dropping 38 places in the rankings after further 2-1 defeats to co hosts Equatorial Guinea and lowly ranked Libya. Equatorial Guinea started with a 1-0 win over Libya and reached the knockout stage while the other co hosts Gabon who had defeated Tunisia 1-0 were finally knocked out on penalties by Mali who had got the better of Guinea with a single goal in their group and finished 3rd in Africa with a 2-0 triumph over Ghana. The biggest scoreline was the 6-1 battering of Botswana by Guinea who also held Ghana to a 1-1 draw. Burkina Faso finished bottom of their group after losing 2-1 to Angola and Sudan. The impressive Sudanese later came unstuck 3-0 against Zambia who went on to defeat the Black Stars of Ghana 1-0 securing their final clash with the Elephants. In the qualifiers for next year’s Cup of Nations Lesotho lost 1-0 at Sao Tome & Principe and could only manage a goalless draw in the return match.