***I DON’T HAVE FIFA’S PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT TO USE, TALK, THINK OR EVEN YELL AT RANDOS FROM MY BALCONY ABOUT ANY NAMES, COUNTRIES OR EVENTS MENTIONED IN MY FIFA WORLD CUP QATAR 2022 COVERAGE, SO FOR COPYRIGHT REASONS FROM HERE ON IN, THE EVENT WILL BE REFERRED TO AS QLAMQTAR 2022.***
The Qlamqtar 2022 World Cup is only about 6 moons away (depending on your own set of lunar circumstances) and the first ever World Cup held in the Arab world promises to be a real doozy. World Cup history is a tale resplendent with stories of triumph against the odds, childhood dreams coming true and unsung heroes becoming legends. As well as dumb idiot losers, wanker fuck ups and teams that are just total bullshit.
But how shall ye learn about these legends, losers and teams that are just total bullshit? Well look no further my wayward friend as I profile all 211 FIFA nations eligible for World Cup qualification. Today, I take a look at Zambia, which is yet to qualify for a World Cup.
🎵 It’s the circleeee of lifeeeeeee 🎵
Nickname: Chipolopolo (The Copper Bullets)
FIFA Ranking: 87 (Mar 2022)
FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualification result: Failed to advance from second round group stage (CAF), finishing behind Tunisia and Equatorial Guinea
The Zambian national team of the late 1980s and early 1990s was possibly the greatest ever African team to never qualify for a World Cup Finals. The stunned the soccer world at the Seoul Olympics in 1988 when they defeated Italy 4-0 and then went on to make the quarter finals. This would prove to be just the beginning.
And after impressive performances at Africa Cup of Nations in 1990 and 1992 (third place and quarter finals respectively), reaching the World Cup was a matter of when, not if. But then in 1993, on the eve of a World Cup qualifying campaign in which they were favoured to qualify from, tragedy struck.
On its way to a World Cup qualifier in Senegal, their plane (a haphazardly organised flight on a underserviced and defective military aircraft due to the national association’s inability to pay for a commercial airliner or charter a flight) experienced problems on the first leg after landing in Brazzaville, Congo. The flight continued despite the complications and after its second stop in Libreville, Gabon, during take off, one of the plane’s engines caught fire and shut down. Mistakenly, the pilot then disengaged the one working engine, causing the jet to lose power and crash into the Atlantic Ocean, 3km off the coast of Libreville, killing the entire Zambian team on board (including 18 players). Following the disaster, the national association considered withdrawing, but ultimately decided to play on in the qualifiers, to honour those lost on Zambian Air Force Flight 319.
Somehow, Zambia tried to move forward from the horrific event, and with an almost entirely new team, they only just failed to qualify for the 1994 World Cup in USA. They then still made the final of the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations and managed a third-place finish at AFCON 1996. Years went by and although the nation slowly came to turns with their loss, they just could never mature and truly take that next step to become part of the big boys.
That all changed in 2012 at the African Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, with the team heading into the event with an added personal significane–the final was scheduled for Libreville, just 7km were that fatal crash occurred in 1993. With the extra emotional weight attached to their campaign, Chipolopolo swept away their group stage opponents, defeated Sudan in the quarters and then bowled over the African continent’s flagship team at the time, Ghana (fresh from a quarter-final appearance at the 2010 World Cup). They had made the final, and they’d be taking on Ivory Coast, just a few Kennedy Mwenee punts up the field away from where the entire Zambian team lost their lives in 1993.
With the score at 0-0, in the 70th minute Ivory Coast’s Gervinho won his team a penalty. More heartache. More bullshit. When will it end, was what Zambians were saying, so something of the like. Stepping up to take the penalty with the chance to put the Elephants up 1-0 with just 20 minutes go, it looked like Didier Drogba would play God again and cause nature to once again cheat Zambia. But he sent his penalty flying to the next galaxy over from our Milky Way, meaning the closure of the circle was still on. COuld the circle close? Could it close??
The game would eventually go to penalties after neither team was able to break the 0-0 deadlock, and with the Zambian players on their knees in the centre circle chanting, looking to the skies, almost overcome by the occasion and with the chance to honour the memory of those lost on Zambian Air Force Flight 319, Stophira Sunzu stepped up and placed the ball on the spot. Still singing and chanting like his teammates in the middle, who could just barely manage to watch on, he steamed in and sent his penalty into the back of the net, giving Zambia their first ever AFCON trophy and in doing so, completing the cirrccleeeeee of lifffffeeeeeee….
One to watch: Kennedy Mwenee 4 EVA!!!!!
Kennedy Mwenee is a hottie and I love him and he is a dreamboat and he has never let in a goal for Zambia. And although it’s been argued Samuel Eto’o scored on him in 2004, there is no evidence of him conceding a goal since then. He is also entirely to thank for Didier Drogba sending his penalty to the Andromeda Galaxy during the final of AFCON 2012, Zambia winning AFCON 2012, and basically any time you have felt happy in your life. Any time that the world just makes sense it is thanks to the magic of Kennedy Mwenee. Please thank him. You may not be a hardcore nutter Zambia fan but rest assured, your happiness is 100% due to Kennedy Mwenee. What a diamond. Thank him. Thank him!
The Highpoint: Oh you know, just the greatest ever story in African soccer history, no big deal
Zambia’s win in the 2012 AFCON final was not only kind of a big deal (see above) but oh you know, it was just the greatest ever story in the history of African soccer. Yeah, just you know, casually the greatest thing ever.
Oh, and not only was it better than anything else ever in the history ever of soccer in Africa, but it also put ‘going to the Africa Cup of Nations’ on my bucket list. Yes, this guy’s bucket list. That’s right, you heard this guy. After watching it with Matt in my living room in Glen Waverley, Melbourne, that went alllllll the way to the top and is pretty much the only thing on it now. At least it’s all I can think of right now. Is going to Africa Cup of Nations the only thing on your bucket list too?? Yes? Wow. Friends? Want to go to AFCON 2023 in Ivory Coast as well do you? Let’s hang out and let’s book all the flights, tickets and accommodation please!!
Learn the lingo & speak like a local!
AFRICA CUP OF NATIONS 2023 IVORY COAST | QUALIFYING – GROUP STAGE
3 June 2022
IVORY COAST 🇨🇮 x 🇿🇲 ZAMBIA
7 June 2022
ZAMBIA 🇿🇲 x 🇰🇲 COMOROS
19 Sep 2022
ZAMBIA 🇿🇲 x 🇱🇸 LESOTHO