One of the greatest feeling of human experience is that of winning. The feeling is even sweeter when you win where the rest of the world was telling you that you could not. When the Chipolopolo boys boarded the plane to Equatorial Guinea the headlines were all about the star studded giants of African football, Senegal, Ghana and Ivory Coast. Zambia was considered a non-entity. The script was already been written that the final would be between Ghana v Ivory Coast. I am glad our boys forgot to read that script. They were going to write their own script, produce their own success and direct how they were going to do so. The rest of the world was obliged to watch our movie.
The first game was the introduction of the blockbuster that was to come. The time our boys stood next to the Senegalese, I thought we look like dwarfs compared to them. Little did I know that the Chipolopolo spirit was going to see them slay their first giant. The boys played some incredible football and when the two goals were scored the celebrations began. The writing was on the wall these were going to be a very special Africa Cup of Nations. The first victim Senegal and suddenly people began to take notice of this forgotten nation.
When Zambia took on Libya that is when we got to notice the grit that the boys had. Despite being behind on two occasions they continued to fight on. The conditions of the pitch were against us and it looked like it would be one of those days. However, they somehow told themselves that they were not going to lose and they did not. Once again the boys rolled on.
The time we made it the quarter finals, people began to sing a different tune. They said they expected us to get there after all we got there the last time. Then we roared into the semi finals when we beat Sudan. Suddenly everybody else woke up. People began to finally take notice, saying that we were a good team. It brought back memories of the team that perished in 1993, may their souls rest in peace. The Gabon disaster was once again being thrust into the spotlight as the back drop for the semi final. The script was that this is where the dream run was going to end and the form book would be restored to order.
I must admit, even I had the belief that it was a great run but this time the giant was too great. The rest of the world said that too, that Ghana was too strong and they were very hungry for the cup. Once again, the Chipolopolo boys did not read the script; they were going to use their own script. After 90 minutes the world ripped apart whatever script they had for this Southern African nation. It was pointless they just did not care what they rest of the world said. The media had bold headlines that Zambia Stun Ghana, Zambia Shock Ghana, Ghana Tumble. Ghana’s defeat sent shockwaves in the football arena.
You see the game against Ghana, showed a different shade to the boys that haven’t been seen in a long time. They were composed, believed and played as a team and not individuals. Everyone carried their own weight and I believe died a little on that pitch. Even though the players who hit the headlines after this wonderful victory were Kennedy Mweene for his brilliant save and Emmanuel Mayuka for his fantastic goal, the rest of the teams deserves their headline. Every player had a part to play whether it was the Rainford Kalaba, Stophila Sunzu or Chisamba Lungu even the players on the bench who celebrate every goal with them, they all deserve an applause.
Every victory meant a lot to every Zambian, and it also meant a lot for the lads who gave their all. For me this was epitomized by Mayuka who could not control the tears when he realized that we had finally beaten Ghana. They had finally reached the final where no one expected them to and it must feel so sweet. Well for me from this point on, whether the boys get the gold or silver they are already champions. I know this may sound like a cliché but they have every right to hold their heads high among the giants of African football because they have earned their place. And when their stories are told, they will be remembered as the African Cup of Nations 2012 team that Defied the Odds. Come Sunday and we will be there to cheer our Copper Bullets on. VIVA CHIPOLOPOLO!!