“My stay in Gabon would not have been complete without a visit to Sabliere Beach, the place where my Chipolopolo teammates’ lives came to an end while pursuing National glory.
It is here where I reflect, where I draw inspiration and where I pray to the Lord.
RIP brothers, you are in my heart forever”
In April 1993, a plane carrying the entire Zambia National Soccer team, plunged into the sea a few minutes after takeoff.
Eighteen of, perhaps the greatest Zambian football generation was lost in that one sad incidence.
Kalusha Bwalya (then based in Europe) was not on this fateful flight as he had to join the team in Senegal, for their 1994 World Cup qualifier match against the Lions of Terranga.
However, Zambia did not withdraw from both the Africa Cup and World cup races following this tragic accident.
Chipolopolo made a fairytale recovery by qualifying to the 1994 Africa Cup in Tunisia where they reached the finals and only lost narrowly to Nigeria by 1-2 goals.
In the world cup race Zambia only succumbed in the last fifteen minutes of the final qualifying match against Morocco on October ten, which the Atlas Lions won by a solitary goal.
Kalusha Bwalya as a player and captain of the side was hugely instrumental in the rebuilding process of this miraculous team.
In 2012, Chipolopolo’s long and winding treasure hunt, came to fruition, ironically from the same soils of Gabon where nineteen years earlier, Zambia’s hopes and aspirations of Silverware at world and continental level had come to an abrupt sad end when their plane cane down off the coast of Gabon and fell into the sea at a place called Sabliere.
On February 12, 2012 Zambia won their first Afcon trophy after beating a star studded and determined Ivory Coast by 8-7 goals via kicks from the penalty spot. Regular and Extra time had failed to produce a Victor at the Chinese built ultra modern Stade’L Amitie.
Credit: Nkweto Tembwe