In one of the most exciting African Cups ever, Zambia defeated favorites Ivory Coast 8-7 in penalty kicks. Zambia celebrated their monumental victory at Libreville, Gabon, only miles away from where their entire squad suffered a fatal plane crash nearly 19 years ago. That squad was considered by many to be Zambia’s best ever, making this victory— Zambia’s first African Cup title ever— something quite special.
Zambia saw plenty of early opportunities that wouldn’t produce. Ivory Coast, with a stacked lineup, orchestrated counter attacks more carefully, but they could not materialize either. As the game waged on, tensions grew tighter. In the 68th minute, Ivory Coast’s Gervinho (of Arsenal) drove into the box from the right wing, only to be sandwiched between two Zambian defenders and draw the penalty kick.
What would normally be a shoe-in goal for Chelsea star forward Didier Drogba, could not find the net marking his second miss in the tournament on a PK. Later in the 87th minute, Ivory Coast’s Wilfred Bony had control of the box and beat the keeper only to see his shot drift inches wide of the post.
Zambian keeper Kennedy Mweene made a crucial save in extra time when Gervnho sent one towards his goal from deep downfield. The save also sparked a promising counter attack near the end of extra time. Zambia’s Felix Katongo approached the box from the right, with a magnificent feed to Christopher Kotongo. But Ivory Coast keeper Barry managed to get a boot on it to save the tie.
The penalty kick record for the this tournament was 22, set by the 2006 semifinal between Cameroon and Ivory Coast. Ivory Coast won, and went on to lose to Egypt in a heartbreaking penalty-kick loss in the finals. This time, it only took 18 penalty kicks to determine a winner. After making the first 7 straight for each team, Ivory Coast’s Kolo Toure (of Man. City) finally saw his kick saved by Mweene.
Zambia missed their next, with Kalba missing sky high. Luckily for Zambia, Gervinho did the same thing, and all it took was one more strike from Sunzu to put Zambia on top. Enjoy the exciting shootout highlights below.