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Kings of Africa!

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LIBREVILLE — Zambia conjured up a shock when they toppled star-studded Ivory Coast 8-7 in a penalty shoot-out to claim their first ever Africa Cup of Nations title in last night’s final.

With the sides goalless after extra time Zambia’s Stoppila Sunzu converted the magic spot kick after Arsenal striker Gervinho missed for the Elephants.

The result meant misery for hot favourites Ivory Coast, who failed to claim the title despite not conceding a goal throughout the entire competition until last night’s shootout.

It also revived memories for Didier Drogba, who missed a penalty in the second half of normal time — and company of their 2006 penalty shoot out final defeat to Egypt in Cairo.

Zambia, motivated by the memory of the 1993 national team wiped out in a plane crash off the Libreville coast, went into the 2012 climax as outsiders.

But they covered themselves with glory, hassling and harrowing their star-studded rivals all the way to the penalty shoot-out, and then holding their nerve to prevail in the dramatic, barely watchable denouement.

Ivory Coast coach Francois Zahoui fielded the same side that saw off Mali 1-0 in the semifinal.
His Zambian counterpart, Herve Renard, recalled striker Emmanuel Mayuka, after his starring role in getting the decisive goal in the 1-0 last four defeat over Ghana.

He joined captain Christopher Katongo in spearheading the Chipolopolo’s (Copper Bullets) attack.Russian-based midfielder Chisamba Lungu came in for Francis Kasonde.

A minute of silence was observed before kick-off in memory of the 74 people killed in the Port Said stadium slaughter in Egypt.

The game was only seconds old when Zambia almost took a shock lead, with keeper Boubacar Barry doing well to save Nathan Sinkala’s close range shot off Katongo’s quick pass from a Rainford Kalaba corner.

Renard was forced into an unscripted change when defender Joseph Musonda limped off in tears on 11 minutes – Nyambe Mulenga took his place.

A shaky start by Ivory Coast gave Zambia hope of an upset and that upset arrived in the penalty shootout.

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