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Thursday, February 9, 2012

It’s Chipolopolo Versus the Elephants in AFCON Finals

The Orange Battle

Zambia produced one of the greatest upsets in the ongoing Africa Nations Cup by knocking out firm favourites Ghana to book their place in the finals.

The Chipolopolo stars needed a 78th minute strike from substitute Emmanuel Mayuka to bring down the Black Stars who saw Asamoah Gyan lose another crucial penalty after his World Cup nightmare in South Africa two years ago.

The Elephants of Cote D’Ivoire also booked their slot in the final with a 1-0 win over Mali. Arsenal winger Gervinho scored the goal with a brilliant solo run that culminated into a low shot past Mali keeper Soumaila Diakite just before the interval, a goal worth of winning any match and one that the on watching Pele would have been proud of. That was the only goal to be scored in the game as the Didier Drogba-captained side entered the finals without conceding a single goal.

But the day belonged to the Zambians whose entertaining and speedy football have overwhelmed their opponents in the competition. Ghana were dominant alright but they failed to take their chances including the penalty. Herve Renard's side have never won the competition but have finished runners up in two occasions, 1974 in Egypt where they lost to Zaire 2-0, and 1994 in Tunisia where they lost 2-1 to Nigeria’s real Super Eagles.

It will be an emotional return to Libreville for the Zambians who just 19 years ago lost the national side en route to a FIFA World Cup qualifier in Dakar.

For the Ivorians, they will be aiming to land their first title in 20 years. Their first and only triumph was in the 1992 final when they beat Ghana 11-10 in post match penalties. Since then, they have gotten into the finals only once, in 2006 where they lost 4-2 to hosts Egypt in post-match penalties.

Most of the Elephants’ players in the 2006 squad will be present for the Sunday final including Didier Drogba, Kolo Toure, Didier Zokora, Emannuel Eboue, and Boka.

The pair clash at Libreville's L'Amitie stadium on Sunday.

Ghana and Mali will square off on Saturday to determine who finishes in third place.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!