Monday, 20 February 2012

Zambinos Create Fairytale Ending

Although Dundee beat the Binos 2-1 in the Cup this year, there was a silver lining to the day. Despite the early exit, the Binos had a new fan because witnessing the game in the crowd was 19 year old Zambian Kelvin Chasuaka.

Kelvin was a guest of this very magazine that day and post-match was delighted and proud to have been presented with a signed Albion shirt by Stuart Brown, Operations Director, on behalf of the Club.

Kelvin celebrated Darren Smith’s opener like everyone else in the DDT that day and little did anyone know that just four months down the line Kelvin would witness his home nation win the African Cup of Nations for the first time in their history.

That dramatic 8-7 penalty shootout victory over Ivory Coast ensured Zambia commemorated and celebrated the Zambian team of 1993 in sensational style.

Tragically, all the players and staff aboard the plane flying to the country’s 1994 World Cup qualifier in Senegal died whilst flying over Gabon, the very same country of their shoot-out triumph 19 years on.

Zambia had made it to two African Nation finals prior to eliminated tournament favourites Ghana 1-0 in this year’s semi-final stage. The tournament win was sweet enough without the knowledge it was nearly 20 years ago the nation fatally lost a golden generation of players. The only survivor of that team being star striker and now Zambia FA head Kalusha Bwalya. Bwalya scored a hat-trick in the only other game that comes close to matching the achievements of this year, a 4-0 win over Italy in the 1988 Summer Olympics.

Zambia (or Chipolopolo, as they are also known as, meaning copper bullets on accounts of the country’s main export), were offered little chance by pundits. Despite Cameroon, Egypt and Nigeria’s failure to qualify for this year’s Nations Cup, Zambia were still rank outsiders to the likes of Demba Ba’s Senegal, Yaya Toure’s Ivory Coast and Asamoah Gyan’s Ghana.

However, coached under Frenchman Herve Renard, the Chipolopolo proved to be formidable opponents who were extremely difficult to break down. Somewhat controversially, Zambia had reappointed Renand after sacking former Dundee (it’s a small world) assistant Dario Bonetti as Head Coach despite successfully qualifying for the tournament in 2011. It proved to be a masterstroke decision in hindsight.

Despite not being pit against Africa’s greatest teams in the tournament’s qualifiers, they only lost once in finishing their group’s winners which featured Libya, Comoros and Mozambique. They continued their resilience into the tournament held in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon stunning Senegal in their group’s opening fixture. Strong at the back and quick on the counter attack, Zambia continued to surprise teams and only conceding three goals in their six games on route to lifting the Cup and putting Zambia firmly on the world’s football map.

Renard galvanised a team of players who predominantly ply their trade on home soil into a solid unit who overcame the odds and created a fairy tale ending the tournament and their own history in Gabon.

Through, Kelvin and Africa on the Ball, for whom Kelvin is project manager, there’s a good chance the club will continue to have a link with Zambia. Africa on the Ball is a non-profit organization which was started in Stirling. It uses the power of football for social development in deprived communities of Africa. As Scotland’s first league club to be 100% owned by the fans and community, it’s great that both entities can continue to grow and develop alongside each other and the respective communities they work in.

To find out more about Africa on the Ball, please visit