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Zambia team returns home to heroes' welcome

Zambia team gets big reward for their amazing victory at Africa Cup of Nations.
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Zambian national team coach Herve Renard is carried by players and officials of the team to celebrate their victory over Ivory Coast at the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) final football between the two teams at stade de l'Amitie in Libreville, Gabon on February 12, 2012. (Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP/Getty Images)

Even those who aren't fans of soccer can appreciate the true underdog achievement of Zambia's national soccer team.

Their win at Sunday's Africa Cup of Nations finals with an 8-7 victory over the favored Ivory Coast team was a true stunner in the soccer world. Even after their enormous win, the team remained humble and celebrated by remembering the tragic past of the Zambia national team.

Several of the team's players chose to dedicate their victory to their teammates lost in the plane crash which wiped out the entire Zambian team 19 years ago. 

Striker Emmanuel Mayuka told the Associated Press, “I just wanted to finish what they failed to finish."

Christopher Katongo, the team's captain echoed Mayuka's statement saying, “By winning the cup we have helped ease the pain of the Zambian people."

According to some reports, upon arrival at the Lusaka show grounds in Zambia, the team was met with nearly 200,000 cheering fans. 

While the heroes' welcome is great, the monetary reward certainly won't hurt. 

Zambian Sports minister Chishimba Kambwili announced Tuesday on national radio,  "The government has given each one of you $59,000, and that is beside what the corporate organizations might decide to give. This money is from the government."

Hopefully now the national team, and the Zambian nation, can make peace with its painful past and move on to dominate the sport in the years to come. 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/africa-emerges/zambia-returns-home-heros-welcome

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