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Date: 20 July 2017

  African - Soccer

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News Headlines

Zambia-pride of COSAFA beat Ghana to reach final!

[Posted 09 Feb 2012]
[By Brighton Mupangavanhu]
Ghana silenced by Zambia. Are Ivory Coast next in-line to be silenced?

The mighty Chipolopolo of Zambia, once again claimed the sculp of yet another West African giant, and still yet another pre-tournament title favourites Ghana, beating them 1-0 in a tightly contested Africa Cup of Nations semi-final tie in Bata to reach the final.

The Zambians have been the toast of the tournament up to this stage with some inspired performances in Group stages and the quarter-finals and have indeed made Southern Africa grow in pride. This qualification for the final is special to Zambians in many respects.

It is Zambia's first final since 1994; was achieved at the expense of a quality Black Stars outfit that had the potential to win the title; and now it is just 90 minutes closer to the realisation of the Zambian dream of "putting the souls to rest" of those who perished in a tragic plane crash, not very far away from Bata, on the coastal side of Gabon in 1993.

Emmanuel Mayuka, a revelation for Chipolopolo at this tournament, came off the bench in the second half to score a beauty of a goal 12 minutes from time after holding off a Ghanaian defender's challenge, before bending the ball majestically, curving it beyond the reach of out-stretched Adam Kwarasey.

Ghana had dominated the match in patches, but it may not be correct to suggest that the Zambians were outplayed. By no means!

Renard Herve proved a better tactician on the day. The Frenchman, who coached the Black Stars as assistant coach at the 2008 finals, had something under his sleeve for his former paymasters. He benched his best striker at the tournament thus far, Mayuka, and to the surprise of many, threw in James Chamanga in his place.

Mayuka proved to be Herve's secret weapon on the night as he came on with the pitch full of tired feet, and the superb goal he scored was evidence that the Zambian mentor's tactics worked on the day.

The Black Stars's cause was not aided by Asamoah Gyan's penalty miss in the 8th minute. After Ghana got what appeared like a very soft penalty following an incident in the box wherein  Davies Nkausu was adjudged to have fouled Kwadwo Asamoah, Kennedy Mweene turned hero when he went down to save Gyan's seemingly tame spot-kick.

That penalty miss and the ultimate failure of Ghana to progress to the next stage of the AFCON was reminiscent of the 2010 World Cup on African soil in South Africa when Gyan missed a penalty kick against Uruguay at the death in a quarter-final encounter, and Ghana went on to be knocked out on penalties.

Derek Boateng made life even more difficult for the Black Stars who were chasing a match when he was forced to pull back Christpopher Katongo who was charging towards goal from a counter attacking position. Boateng was shown a second yellow card and then dismissed in the 83rd minute.

Compounded by the withdrawal of Gyan eight minutes earlier, Ghana could not breach the Zambian defence which to its credit, stood firm against the skills of the likes of the Ayew brothers, Andre and Jordan and Gyan.

It is now Zambia in the final, and not Ghana.

Some analysts like Mamadou Gaye choose to hide behind the comfort that Ivory Coast who defeated Mali 1-0 in the other semi-final match to set up a final against Zambia, will have an easier final now that Ghana are out.

Gaye is an Ivorian and could be forgiven for enthusing national pride and passion. The only problem is that analysts like Gaye who are blinded by a sense of loyalty choose to suffer from convenient amnesia.

Senegal, who boast a strikeforce of the likes of Demba Cisse and Demba Ba of Newcastle (the latter is the 2nd top goal scorer in England currently) are by no means a weak team and were beaten by Zambia during group stages while wearing the favourite tag. Ghana also wore the same tag until Zambia removed them from the tournament last night.

It is highly possible that Zambia will not want to leave the story uncompleted. Ivory Coast could be the next title favourites in-line to be put to the sword. Nothing much seperates Ghana from Ivory Coast, and only yesterday, a weak Mali side demonstrated that the Ivorian midield which boasts stars like Yaya Toure is by no means invincible.

Will the Ivorians be able to contain Zambia's team effort and neutralise their attacking prowess? Well, Ivory Coast's record up until the final is not something to be ignored.

The West Africans have played five matches, and exactly 450 minutes of play without conceding a goal. The Zambians and the legion of their new followers can only ignore statistics at their own peril.

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