Zambia's national soccer team is proving to be mightier than they look.
The team was not expected to defeat rivals Ghana in the semi-final match on Wednesday, however after Zambia substitute player Emmanuel Mayuka scored the only goal in the 78th minute, the underdog team walked away with the victory.
They will once again however enter the final match as the team favored to lose against Ivory Coast.
Zambia last appeared in the African Cup finals in 1994, only one year after the devastating plane crash which wiped out their entire team, who were en route to play in the World Cup qualifiers. In that game Zambia placed second. This time, they are looking for the win.
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According to The Hindu, after defeating Ghana on Wednesday Zambia's coach Herve Rendard noted:
“The last final Zambia played was in 1994 with a reserve team, because all the team died in 1993. That meant before the tournament we were able to say, ‘if before some substitutes were able to go to the final of the Africa Cup, why not us?’ And we did.”
Team Zambia also has the support of the country's president, Michael Sata who said in a statement, "On behalf of all Zambians, I wish to congratulate you on this breath-taking feat. You are the pride of our beloved country.”
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However, Zambia isn't alone in their desire to take home the title. Ivory Coast has not won the title match since 1992. Coach Francois Zahoui said of his team, “We came here with a lot of expectation and pressure. With the failures we’ve had in the past, we understand we haven’t won it yet."
No matter who wins in the finals, it is proof that a new age in African soccer has begun.