Ivory Coast was the overwhelming favorite and had the big-name players. It's not like facing those factors had stopped Zambia from maintaining its inspiring quest to be crowned king of Africa before.
Almost 20 years after a plane crash in Libreville, Gabon, killed 25 Zambian national team players and officials, Zambia came full circle and paid an incredible tribute to its 1993 predecessors in that city, stunning Ivory Coast 8-7 in a dramatic penalty shootout after 120 scoreless minutes to capture the African Cup of Nations for the first time in its history.
Didier Drogba had a chance to win it in regulation for the favored Elephants, but he skied a 70th-minute penalty kick to keep the game scoreless, which it remained through extra time.
Each team converted on its first seven attempts during the penalty shootout before the twists started to unfold. Kolo Toure's saved shot opened the door for the Chipolopolo, but Rainford Kalaba could not capitalize and gave Ivory Coast new life. Arsenal striker Gervinho put his attempt high, though, and Stophira Sunzu came through with the title clincher.
Zambia entered the tournament as the 16th-highest ranked team in Africa, according to the FIFA world rankings. The Copper Bullets' only slip-up during the tournament came in the group stage, when they tied Libya. Wins over Sudan, Ghana and Ivory Coast have them as perhaps the most surprising and inspiring undisputed champion in Africa's soccer history.
Here are highlights from the match:
Not surprisingly, Zambia and Ivory Coast dominated the tournament's Best XI, with each accounting for four players:
Kennedy Mweene, Zambia
Jean-Jacques Gosso, Ivory Coast
John Mensah, Ghana
Stophila Sunzu, Zambia
Adama Tamboura, Mali
Gervinho, Ivory Coast
Seydou Keita, Mali
Emmanuel Mayuka, Zambia
Yaya Toure, Ivory Coast
Didier Drogba, Ivory Coast
Christopher Katongo, Zambia
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