Renard happy as Lusaka celebrates

Renard happy as Lusaka celebrates

Zambia coach Herve Renard feels his side was destined to reach the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations final in Gabon.

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Chipolopolo defied the odds to beat tournament favourites Ghana 1-0 in Bata on Wednesday evening. Emmanuel Mayuka netted the only goal of a fiercely contested match that saw Asamoah Gyan miss an early penalty.

Renard’s side will now travel to Libreville on Sunday to face Ivory Coast in the final, and it is set to be an emotional journey, with the Gabonese capital the site of the country’s worst sporting disaster in 1993.

25 players and officials lost their lives as the plane they were travelling in, on its way to Senegal for a 1994 World Cup qualifier, crashed into the ocean shortly after taking off.

After securing their final place, Renard said: “There’s something written that we have to go to play to honor the memories of the Zambia national team that died in 1993.

“It was catastrophic for the nation. The 12 million people of Zambia are waiting for us to go back to Libreville. Immediately [after] we arrive, we will go to the place. We just have to think of them and play for them and play for Zambia because it’s a great country.”

Zambian legend Kalusha Bwalya, who is now president of the Zambian football federation, was one player not on the flight. He had been scheduled to meet up with his teammates in West Africa – and after watching the country’s new bread of stars, has revealed just how much reaching the final means to the whole country.

He added: “It means a lot. Everybody’s so happy to be where we are. It’s the boys who have done it. I think when we go to Libreville that we will get emotional.

“I think there will be a reconnect between the new and the old team and hopefully we can end it well Sunday.”

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