Yohane Mbeeya Moono
On the 28 April, the Zambian football fraternity will be commemorating 29 years since country lost the national team in a plane crash on the coast of Gabon into the Atlantic Ocean.
The team was heralded for great heights but the cruel hand of death rob the nation of a great footballing story that this team was making. The team was determined to make Zambia proud as the were on course to take Zambia to US 94 World Cup.
This tragedy still resonates vividly in the minds of many Zambian soccer fans and the families who lost their loved ones. The plane had 30 people on board that is 5 crew members, 25 players, coaching staff and officials from the FA.
One of the most touching stories from the Disaster is that of former Power Dynamos midfield genius Wisdom Chansa. He was due to get married but deemed the National Assignment more important and decided he would be on the plane to defend mother Zambia on the pitch in Dakar, Senegal. That’s now Patriotism to your Nation. Sadly he love for the country made he would be wife miss out on an appointment to be married to a National Icon through the cold hand of death.
Kalusha Bwalya was supposed to link up with the team in Senegal and that is how he survived the crash. Another to have survived the crash is now Choma Green Eagles Coach Aggrey Chiyangi who was dropped from the traveling party on the eleventh hour. Evans Sakala and Harrison Chongo suffered the same fate as Aggrrey Chiyangi. Kalusha Bwalya, Johnson Bwalya, Aggrey Chiyangi, Evans Sakala and Harrison Chongo would be instrumental in building a new team post the plane crash. Even though the new team did perform beyond expectations by reaching the final of the AFCON 94 in Tunisia, they lost to Nigeria in the final. The reorganized team would also miss out qualification for the US 1994 World Cup with many Zambians pinning the blame on Gabonese Referee Jean Fidel Diramba for what they termed as biased official in the crucial encounter in Rabat against Morocco.
The hand of fate did repay Zambia in 2012 by winning the first AFCON in the land their predecessor died on a similar quest of bringing glory to Mother Zambia. Christopher Katongo the inspirational captain managed to bring smiles on the faces of the Zambian fans and Kalusha Bwalya was the Zambian FA president at the time of the victory.
Many in Zambia still believe that the 1993 team is the best that Zambia has ever seen and still argue that had it not been for death, this team would have conquered Africa and take Zambia to the World Cup.