Zambia Vs Ivory Coast
February 12, 2012 by staff
Zambia Vs Ivory Coast, Zambia and Ivory Coast both have the luxury of heading into Sunday’s Africa Cup of Nations final with no suspensions and fully-fit squads.
Zambia’s Emmanuel Mayuka is pushing to start after coming off the bench to hit the semi-final winner against Ghana.
Elephants coach Francois Zahoui is expected to keep the same side that started their semi-final win over Mali.
Both sides have reached the final on two previous occasions, with Ivory Coast lifting the title in 1992.
But Zambia are hoping to be crowned champions for the first time, and in doing so become the 14th country to win the Nations Cup.
Mayuka is one of three players who need one goal to be able to finish top scorer, alongside Zambia team-mate Chris Katongo and Ivorian Didier Drogba.
Sunday’s Africa Cup of Nations final pits pre-tournament favourites Ivory Coast against a Zambian side of whom little was expected in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.
The Zambians will be contesting their third final, after finishing as runners-up in 1974 and 1994.
PATH TO FINAL – ZAMBIA
2-1 v Senegal, Group A
2-2 v Libya, Group A
1-0 v Eq Guinea, Group A
3-0 v Sudan, Quarter-Final
1-0 v Ghana, Semi-Final
Their last appearance in a Nations Cup final came just a year after 18 Chipolopolo players died in a plane crash minutes after taking off from the Gabonese capital Libreville.
Returning to this year’s final in Gabon, after playing their previous five games in Equatorial Guinea, has served as an inspiration for a delegation headed up by Zambian FA president Kalusha Bwalya, who missed the 1993 flight as he was based in Europe.
As a southern African side looks to win the tournament for the first time since South Africa in 1996, emotions will be running high for all Zambians – for whom the air disaster is an indelible part of the country’s history.
“With our determination, we are scared of nobody but we have lots of respect for Ivory Coast,” says Zambia’s French coach Herve Renard, who likes to wear a ‘lucky white shirt’ during matches.
“We know the quality of the players and what they are capable of. We are in front of a mountain but we’ve got so much determination that we are not afraid of reaching the summit.”
Ivory Coast are also contesting their third final, having lost in 2006 against host nation Egypt after winning their only title in 1992 against Ghana – with both games being decided by penalties.
PATH TO FINAL – I COAST
1-0 v Sudan, Group B
2-0 v Burkina Faso, Group B
2-0 v Angola, Group B
3-0 v Eq Guinea, Quarter-Final
1-0 v Mali, Semi-Final
The Elephants are looking to become only the third side to win the Nations Cup without conceding a goal – which they themselves first achieved in 1992 before Cameroon repeated the feat in 2002.
Packed with stars of the calibre of Drogba, Yaya Toure, Gervinho and Didier Zokora, this Ivorian side has sacrificed flair for pragmatism as coach Francois Zahoui bids to fulfil the promise of a ‘golden generation’.
The first local coach to lead the Elephants since Yeo Martial in 1992, Zahoui’s playing years in Italy have rubbed off on a coach who says his main job is his defence – as he knows his forwards will always score.
One of those, Salomon Kalou, says the squad is determined to win the African crown to bring joy to their compatriots after the political turmoil of recent years in the previously peaceful West African nation.
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