• Zambia fulfils destiny, wins first Africa Cup of Nations title

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  • Zambia celebrate  their first Africa Cup of Nations title win after sudden penalty victory(8-7) over Cote d'Ivoire.(Photo:CAF)Zambia celebrate their first Africa Cup of Nations title win after sudden penalty victory(8-7) over Cote d’Ivoire.(Photo:CAF)
Feb 13, 2012-

Zambia won their first African title Sunday after beating Ivory Coast 8-7 on penalties during the final match of the Orange Africa Cup of Nations played at Stade de l’Amitie in Libreville, Gabon.

The match had ended goalless after extra time with Didier Drogba missing a penalty in the 69th minute during a pulsating game befitting a final.

Tiote, Bony, Bamba, Gradel , Drogba, Tiene, Ya Kona, converted for Ivory Coast and Kolo Toure and Gervinho missed while Chris Katongo, Mayuka, Chansa, Felix Katongo, Mweene, Sinkala, Lungu converted for Zambia while Kalaba missed before Stoppila Sunzu won it for Zambia.

It was an emotional win for the Chipolopolos who were out to pay a special tribute to their fallen idols. In 1993 a place carrying their national football team took off in Gabon for Senegal but crashed into the Atlantic Ocean killing all the 18 players on board.

Zambian goalkeeper Mweene was brilliant throughout the game and deservedly saved Kolo Toure’s spot kick leaving the Elephants still searching for an African title since 1992.

Zambian captain Christopher Katongo forcing Ivorian defender Siaka Tiene to concede a corner kick in the first minute of the game. Zambia worked out a well laid set piece that could have seen the fastest goal but Nathan Sinkala shot was too close to Barry Copa in goal for the Ivorians who dived to his right and smothered the shot hit from inside the box.

Zambia was forced to pull out Joseph Musonda through injury in the 10th minute to be replaced by Henri Nyambe Mulenga and Chipolopolo maintained their early domination of the Elephants.

Ivory Coast’s best chance could have brought the game’s opening goal. One swift move in the 29th minute ended up with Didier Drogba shook off a defender before back heeling to Yaya Toure but the midfielder side footed past Kennedy Mweene’s right-hand post missing the goal by mere centimeters.

Katongo, Mayuka, Chansa and Sinkala a constant menace to the Ivorian back four.

The Ivorian midfield of Chiek Tiote, Yaya Toure. Didier Zokora and Kalou was struggling to keep up with the nimble Zambia midfield anchored by Rainford Kalaba Ivorians started the second half more attack minded and went close from a free-kick after Sinkala fouled Souleyman Bamba .

Gervinho came alive on the right flank and was soon making some fruitful runs as the Elephants woke up from their slumber.

Ivorians were awarded a penalty in the 69th minute after Gervinho went down under a challenge from Chansa. Drogba sent his effort over the cross bar and the drama at Stade de l’Amitie continued.

Both coaches Herve Renard for Zambia and Francois Zahoui made changes as the game approached the last twenty minutes. Felix Katongo replaced Henri Nyambe Mulenga while Zokora made way for Didier Ya Konan.

Zambia were denied by a goal saving timely tackle from Kolo Toure in added time as Mayuka ran onto a delightful ball played in by Chansa and the match went into extra time and penalties before Sunzu scored the winning penalty that gave the Southern African side their first title after appearing in their third final.

Orange Man of the competition: Christopher Katongo (Zambia)

Pepsi Top scorer of the competition: Emmanuel Mayuka (Zambia)

Samsung Fair Player of the competition: Jean-Jacques Gosso Gosso

Fair Play award: Cote d’Ivoire

Compiled from Caf