Remembering Zambian Football Team That Perished In A Plane Crash - 1993

The 27th of April 2020 marked exactly 27 years after the aircraft of the Zambian Air Force that was carrying the Zambian national football team to a FIFA World Cup Qualifier against Senegal in Dakar crashed into the Atlantic Ocean shortly after take-off from Libreville, Gabon, killing all 25 passengers and five crew members onboard.

The official investigation concluded that the pilot had shut down the wrong engine following an engine fire.

The team arguably had the best players that Zambia have ever assembled after they thrashed Italy 4–0 at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul. They were also setting their eyes on the 1993 Africa Cup of Nations trophy and a place at their first World Cup. The squad included big names such as Patrick “Bomber” Banda, Kenan Simambe, Godfrey Kangwa, Eston Mulenga, John Soko who all perished in process but there was another 2 big names Kalusha Bwalya and Charles Musonda who where not in the flight because they were based overseas scheduled to meet the team in Senegal.

A new side that was quickly assembled led by Bwalya, faced up to the difficult task of having to complete Zambia’s World Cup qualifiers and then prepare for the upcoming African Nations Cup . The resurrected team defied the odds and , reached the final against Nigeria. Despite the loss, the Zambian side returned home as national heroes.

In 2012, Zambia won the Africa Cup of Nations in Libreville with a youth full squad that comprised of talented players that includes ; Kennedy Mweene, Hichani Himonde, Christpher Katongo, Stopila Sunzu, Davies Nkausu, Isaac Chansa, Rainford Kalaba and Collins Mbesuma only to mention a few. Most of these players who lifted the cup were also playing abroad in foreign leagues which was a true reflection on how good they where at that time under the guidance Herve Renard who later won the same title with Ivory Coast. Zambia beat Côte d’Ivoire 8–7 in a penalty shoot-out after the game ended 0–0 after normal and added time.

Zambia is still regarded as one of the heavyweights in Africa qualifying for the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) and FIFA World Cup year in Year out. They also dominated southern Africa winning the COSAFA senior challenge most recently in 2019.They have since produced world class players who attracted interest from Europe and other parts of the world including France, Belgium, South Africa and Democratic republic of Congo. They are now coached by former Uganda, Orlando Pirates and Zamalek gaffer Milutin Sredojević and they are ranked 88th in the world.

Zambia remembered the Gabon 1993 plane crash heroes last week in a restricted ceremony due to the covid-19

Acting Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) spokesperson Sydney Mungala said the anniversary was restricted, with a low key event held in light of the Covid-19 crisis, where only a representative of each of the families attended during the brief ceremony at the Heroes Acre. All the crash victims are interred at the Heroes Acre located at Independence Stadium in Lusaka

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