Emotions high as Zambia visit crash site

Zambia  made an emotional stopover at the Beach Sabliere, site of the 1993 air disaster Thursday  afternoon just hours after arriving in Gabon ahead of Sunday’s Africa Cup of Nations final against Cote d’Ivoire in Libreville.

A total of 30 players, crew and officials lost their lives off the coast of Gabon on April 27, 19 years ago on their away to Dakar to play Senegal in a 1994 World Cup qualifier.

“God has given us this opportunity to be here and now we must win this Africa Cup of Nations for the Zambia national team from 1993,” Zambia coach Herve Renard said.

The team laid wreaths on the beach and sung solemn hymns in the midst of crashing waves in a brief memorial ceremony that was also attended by Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) president Kalusha Bwalya.

“In 1993, the Chipolopolo came here to fulfill a promise. They did not succeed, but instead gave up their lives for a gallant cause – the dream to bring glory to our Country, mother Zambia,” Kalusha said.

“It is the same cause that brings us here today, the only difference is that we are alive and our former team mates are no longer here .

“It is for this reason that I say here today on behalf of all of us involved in Zambian Football. “

Meanwhile, Zambia landed in Libreville at 10:30 hours local time after taking a 30-minute flight from Bata in neighbouring Equatorial Guinea that has been their base at the Africa Cup since January 21.

The team were welcomed in a colourful ceremony at the Leon M’ba Airport in Libreville by traditional dancers who picked out Rainford Kalaba, Christopher Katongo and coach Herve Renard from the entourage.

The trio was bestowed with traditional single-feathered skull caps before releasing them to board the team bus taking them to their hotel.