8th February, 2012
Chipolopolo of Zambia made history today when they defeated the Black Stars of Ghana 1-0 in the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations first semi and qualified for their first final of the tournament in 18 years.
Substitute Emmanuel Mayuka scored 12 minutes from full time to give Zambia a shock 1-0 win over four-time champions Ghana.
The goal came against the run of play with Isaac Chansa setting up the 20-year-old striker, whose shot from outside the penalty area flew past goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey into the corner of the net.
Zambia now go to Libreville for an emotional showdown in Sunday’s final as it was off the Gabon coast that a plane carrying the 1993 Zambian squad plunged into the Atlantic killing all 25 players and officials on board.
It will be the third final appearance by the Chipolopolo when they lost to Zaire after a replay in 1974 and to Nigeria 20 years later with a team built within 12 months after the tragedy.
Midfielder Derek Boateng was sent off seven minutes from time after a second booking to leave Ghana battling on with 10 men in a tense finish as Zambia clung to the slim advantage.
Ghana made three changes from the team that edged Tunisia in a bruising last-eight clash three days ago with Lee Addy, Derek Boateng and Jordan Ayew replacing Alhassan Masawudu, injured Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu and Sulley Muntari.
Addy was one of only two outfield players in the 23-man squad who had taken no part in the previous four matches while Boateng made his first start and Ayew his second.
After making only one change in their previous four outings, Zambia coach Herve Renard dropped Chisamba Lungu and Mayuka from the side that convincingly defeated Sudan and fielded Francis Kasonde and James Chamanga.
Ghana won two and Zambia one of three Cup of Nations clashes between the countries with the last 16 years ago in Johannesburg when the Chipolopolo scored the lone goal of a third place play-off.
The Black Stars were favourites this time and the early exchanges backed that view with the four-time champions squandering a great chance to take an early lead when Asamoah Gyan failed to convert a penalty.
Awarded for a foul on Kwadwo Asamoah by Davies Nkausu, Gyan did not strike the spot kick with great power and goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene guessed correctly, dived to his left and pushed the ball away with his left hand.
Gyan, whose three goals were instrumental in Ghana reaching the 2010 final, was not at his sharpest and shot lazily at Mweene soon after when put through by Andre Ayew.
Jordan Ayew, younger brother of Andre and son of Ghana legend Abedi ‘Pele’ Ayew, was another culprit when he broke free inside the box but failed to connect with a delicate chip over the defense, as Ghana battled without an equaliser till the end.