The Chipolopolo are very familiar with Nations Cup football. CAN 2012 will mark their 15th appearance in the finals. Herve Renard possesses a healthy blend of young and old players. In his second stint at the head of Zambia’s national team, how inspiring will the Frenchman be?
Zambia’s Copper Bullets
Zambia have never tasted glory in the championship and they can count a total of three third-place triumphs and two sets of silver medals. The Copper Bullets have a number of memories to cherish. One of those comes from their 1982 AFCON campaign in Libya. The Zambians survived against the likes of Zimbabwe and Morocco in the qualifying stages to reach the final tournament.
After losing to Algeria in their opening game, the Chipolopolo made a stunning comeback to reach the knockout stage. In the process, the Zambians stunned Nigeria 3-0 and sent them packing. In the semifinals, hosts Libya denied the Copper Bullets from reaching the ultimate stage.
The Zambians, however, made sure not to leave Libya empty-handed. In the Third place final, they claimed revenge against Algeria to win bronze.
In 1974 and in 1994, Zambia went beyond the semifinal stage. However, they encountered defeat at both occasions. In the latest edition of the Nations Cup, Zambia experienced a quarterfinal stage exit—actually for the second time. They lost out to Nigeria in a highly controversial encounter.
Zambia at the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations
Zambia are in Group A with Libya, favorites Senegal and co-hosts Equatorial Guinea. They are poised to join the Lions of Teranga into the quarterfinals. Senegal vs Zambia will be the Chipolopolo’s opening match at the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations.
Overcoming the Senegalese at the Estadio de Bata is something that would considerably boost the Zambians’ momentum ahead of their second game against the Libyans (whom they failed to beat over two legs in the 2012 AFCON qualifiers).
A great start to the campaign might spur them all the way to the final. In the absence of the Pharaohs of Egypt and the Indomitable Lions of Cameroun, why should the Chipolopolo deny themselves from dreaming big?
Zambia’s 2012 Africa Cup of Nations squad goes as follows:
Goalkeepers: Kalililo Kakonje, Kennedy Mweene, Joshua Titima
Defenders: Kampamba Chintu, Hichani Himonde, Francis Kasonde, Christopher Katongo, Nyambe Mulenga, Joseph Musonda, Davies Nkausu, Stoppila Sunzu
Midfielders: Isaac Chansa, Noah Chivuta, Rainford Kalaba, Felix Katongo, Chisamba Lungu, Clifford Mulenga, Jonas Sakuwaha, Nathan Sinkala
Forwards: Evans Kangwa, James Chamanga, Emmanuel Mayuka, Collins Mbesuma