#1 With a Bullet

Whether you call ’em the Copper Bullets or Chipolopolo, the Zambian national football [soccer] team has been mowing down its opponents in the African Cup of Nations and has now reached the finals.

Substitute Emmanuel Mayuka scored 12 minutes from time to give Zambia a shock 1-0 win over four-time champions Ghana Wednesday and a place in the Africa Cup of Nations final.  Mayuka, the only member of the Zambian squad plying his trade in Europe, scored against the run of play with a shot past goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey into the corner of the net on the turn of 78 minutes.

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Zambia now go to Libreville for an emotional showdown with Ivory Coast Sunday: it was off the Gabon coast that a plane carrying the 1993 squad plunged into the Atlantic killing all 25 players and officials on board.

Does the fact that Team Zambia’s uniforms are orange have anything to do with their success?  A prime sponsor of the Cup of Nations is Orange, the French mobile phone operator.  And Zambia’s coach is a Frenchman; Herve Renard (that’s The Fox, en francais).

But perhaps instead it’s just a serendipitous convergence of energy and pride that accompanies the fact that Zambia is one of the few countries in Africa to have recently accomplished a peaceful, democratic transition of power from corrupt incumbents to opposition reformers.  Whatever.  Excitement is mounting, from Lusaka to Mongu, from Solwezi to Chipata:  no matter the outcome, Sunday’s game will be an immense source of joy for the entire nation.  All aboard!



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