TODAY marks the 20-year anniversary of one of the greatest sporting tragedies the world had ever seen … when a plane carrying the Zambian national team plunged into the Atlantic Ocean.
Taking off from their second stop-off in Libreville, Gabon, the DHC-5D Buffalo aircraft went down and in the process killed 30 people, 25 of them being Chipolopolo players and coaches.
Only two members of the squad were spared – Kalusha Bwalya and Charles Musonda were making their own way to north Africa after attending to club duties in the Netherlands and Belgium respectively.
The team were en route to Dakar to face Morocco in the first match of the final round of qualifiers for the 1994 World Cup.
It had been a dream run for Chipolopolo, who finished third in the 1990 Africa Cup of Nations, while their club sides were also shining in continental competitions.
They had also finished top of their group in qualifying for the 1994 World Cup, sending them through to the three-team pool consisting of Morocco and Senegal.
Following the plane crash, Bwalya and Musondo scraped together a team to continue fighting the dream. It was only defeat in the final match against Morocco which denied them what would have been the most unlikely of qualifications.
Unperturbed, Bwalya and his new Chipolopolo team reached the 1994 Nations Cup Final against Nigeria, eventually losing 2-1.