2012 Africa Cup of Nations Team of the Tournament
In 1993, an aircraft carrying the Zambian national football team crashed into the Atlantic Ocean. There were no survivors.
A year later, spurred by the tears of their nation, Kalusha Bwalya led a gritty Zambian side to the final of the Africa Cup of Nations, only to lose to Nigeria.
When Stoppira Sunzu buried his penalty, Zambia didn't just win their first Africa Cup of Nations, but he ensured that Godfrey Chitalu, Alex Chola, Efford Chabala and those who lost their lives in 1993 were not forgotten.
What follows is the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations all-tournament team.
How many Zambians are included?
Will Didier Drogba feature?
Read on to find out.
Goalkeeper: Kennedy Mweene
Zambia, 27 years old, Free State Stars
Kennedy Mweene is as eccentric as it gets.
Forget about carrying the ball outside the box (with his hands) against Senegal and the Ivory Coast. What about his laugh-out-loud taunt (but unsporting) at Didier Drogba?
We all know what Mweene was watching prior to the final—WWE Raw.
The Zambian goalkeeper was brave to step up to the spot 5-4 down during the penalty shootout—and ice cold as he sent Copa the wrong way.
What do Asamoah Gyan and Kolo Touré have in common?
Both have had penalties saved by Mweene.
Centre-Back: Kolo Touré
Ivory Coast, 30 years old, Manchester City
Kolo Touré was an integral part of an Ivory Coast defence that didn't concede a single goal throughout the tournament.
He didn't put a foot wrong...until he stepped up to take a penalty in the final.
Centre-Back: John Mensah
Ghana, 29 years old, Lyon
Given that John Mensah had only scored one previous international goal, it was an anomaly that he scored not once but twice during the tournament.
Mensah was a strong and dependable figure at the back for the Black Stars.
Centre-Back: Stophira Sunzu
Zambia, 22 years old, Mazembe
Stophira Sunzu is a beast of a human being, and Didier Drogba found that out first hand.
Sunzu just overwhelmed Drogba. Generally, it's the other way around.
A split second before he sunk his historic penalty, I thought he was about to do a John Terry by slipping over and missing.
At just 22, surely Sunzu will soon find his way into a top European club.
Right Winger: Gervinho
Ivory Coast, 24 years old, Arsenal
Whether it was taking it to the byline on the right flank or cutting in from the left flank, Gervinho was a constant menace.
That being said, he's still better centrally, but Arsenal and the Ivory Coast insist on playing him out wide.
I don't blame them because he's such an amazing dribbler.
Centre Midfielder: Seydou Keita
Mali, 32 years old, Barcelona
Seydou Keita's experience is so evident when he plays for Mali.
He's easily the most composed, most efficient and most valuable player for his team.
He masterfully controlled the tempo of Mali's midfield.
Here's an interesting fact: 13 years ago, he won the Golden Ball at the 1999 FIFA World Youth Championship—a tournament that featured the likes of Ronaldinho, Xavi, Iker Casillas, Esteban Cambiasso, Diego Forlán, Roque Santa Cruz, Simão and Stephen Appiah.
Centre Midfielder: Kwadwo Asamoah
Ghana, 23 years old, Udinese
Kwadwo Asamoah's box-to-box running was invaluable to Ghana.
It shouldn't be a surprise that Italian football has matured Asamoah's game to the extent that he knows his role inside out at just 23.
In the 1-0 loss to Zambia, he was the anchor for the Black Stars as they accumulated 60 percent of possession.
Attacking Midfielder: Yaya Touré
Ivory Coast, 28 years old, Manchester City
Whenever Yaya Touré plays in a more attacking role, he's almost unstoppable when he surges forward.
Remember, he's also a solid defensive midfielder and a world-class, box-to-box midfielder.
This just goes to show how complete of a footballer he is.
Against Mali, seemingly most of the Ivory Coast attack went through him, as he completed 44 of his 50 passes.
He ended up accumulating the most assists in the tournament with three.
Left Winger: Rainford Kalaba
Zambia, 25 years old, Mazembe
Rainford Kalaba is a gifted winger who tormented defenders throughout the tournament.
Rafa Benítez, who is currently a pundit, praised Kalaba as a "special player."
The winger had a chance to be remembered in Zambian history, but he fluffed his penalty—something that'll regret for the rest of his career.
European clubs should take a look at Kalaba.
Centre Forward: Christopher Katongo
Zambia, 29 years old, Henan Construction
It wasn't just the three goals, it was Christopher Katongo's leadership and hard work that inspired his teammates to such lofty heights.
When his career ends, this could be his career highlight.
Centre Forward: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Gabon, 22 years old, Saint-Étienne
Like Didier Drogba, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's tournament ended in tears.
Both scored three goals, but Aubameyang played with lesser teammates and also provided two assists.
Drogba missed two penalties and played with a team that was by far the best in the tournament. He should have scored more, at least five like Samuel Eto'o during the 2006 and 2008 Africa Cup of Nations.
These are the reasons why I could not include Drogba over Aubameyang.
Aubameyang was scintillating for Gabon, yet also cost his team glory by failing to score his penalty.
Manager: Hervé Renard
Zambia, 43 years old, Frenchman
Hervé Renard's exploits as Zambian manager will lock down a position at a European club in the summer.
Not only is he young, but he has expertise in African football after stints with Angola and Ghana.
In the final, Renard demonstrated a ruthless and compassionate side.
Ruthless as he tore into Davies Nkausu in front of the world and compassionate after he carried an injured Joseph Musonda to his celebrating teammates.
Remember Musonda had left the field in tears as his final was ended after 12 minutes.
This single act of kindness has locked in a relationship that will last forever between Renard and Musonda.
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