Afcon 2012 team profile - Zambia
Ranked 80th in the World and 19th in Africa By Fifa the Zambian National team in simply known by one word namely Chipolopolo. While to many this may sound like some exotic Sandwich or roll to be dipped in some funny accompanying sauce we in Africa know that it simply stands for “copper bullets”. Copper because its one of Zambia's main exports and bullets because that’s how the team plays, fast and precise.
Having reached the Afcon Finals twice (1974 and 1994) and placing 3rd in 1982, Chipolopolo even with the emergence of Bafana Bafana in her Geographical region has always been considered the true powerhouse of Southern Africa. Her four nil destruction of Italy in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul in which the great Kalusha Bwalya scored a hat trick, remains one of the continents proudest and most memorable moments. Unfortunately she has also provided us with one of the saddest and most tragic one as well . It occurred when on April 27th 1993 a Zambian Air force Jet on its way to Senegal for a 1994 WC qualification game crashed killing everyone aboard including 18 of the Chipolopolo.
At this fork in the road Zambian Football could have easily folded but the Country and Team rededicated itself and just like a reborn Phoenix reemerged and amazingly played her way to her second Afcon Finals within months. In Tunisia in 1994 she would lose to a Nigerian team which at number five in the World then, happened to be Africa's highest ranked team ever. Not to be discouraged the Chipolopolo would keep playing with flair and the total support of all of Zambia and success would come. For instance within 24 months of the crash and the Final in Tunis Zambia would be ranked 15th in the World, her highest placement ever.
In addition to this she would win the COSAFA Cup in 1997, 1998, and 2006 and were Runners-up in 2004, 2005 and 2007. She would also win the CECAFA Cup in 1984, 1991 and 2006 just as we know she had in 1984 and 1991 while coming in second in 1976, 1977, 1978, 1988.
Road to Afcon 2012 Gabon / Equatorial Guinea.
Ever heard the comparison “faster than a speeding bullet” ? Well that’s exactly how the Chipolopolo played during the Afcon qualifications. Their wing play was amazingly fast and their counter attack amazingly potent. Losing only to Libya by a lone goal she drew with them again and then promptly dispatched Mozambique, and the Comros Islands winning Group C outright. Without a doubt this is a team that deserves to be at Afcon.
At Afcon she has been placed in Group A where she will face Libya again, Senegal and hosts Equatorial Guinea. Not an easy group considering Demba Ba’s form, the way Guinea dismissed Nigeria and how the Libyans played considering the events back home.
Nevertheless the Southern Africans have been to this dance repeatedly and we know they wont act shell shocked. When Christopher Katongo told SuperSport “ We have the skill and a good Coach so only we can stop ourselves” we certainly cant argue with him. All of this will certainly boil down to the fact if Hervé Renard can get his team into proper playing shape by January and have his strikers behave like real bullets and not fire crackers. But he also needs to shore up his defence. Against Nigeria the "wunderkind" Ahmed Musa punished the Zambian backs repeatedly and this is now all on tape for their opponents to scout. Thank God veteran Kampamba Chintu is recovering nicely and should be fit by January the 12th when they play their first game against Senegal.
Now lets not feel too sorry for the Frenchman for he certainly has the talent and a very deep pool of players to select from. They play at home , next door in the RSA and as far away as China and India and they are all willing to come or have already come. Considering their accomplishments in Angola, the expectations in Zambia as well as by the experts are now very high, and it is safe to say that anything less than a quarter final berth would be considered a failure.
Come 2012 the Chipolopolo will be expected to hit their mark fair and square just like they have done before . Nothing more nothing less.