Zambia will at 22.00 hours today 24 January 2024 play Morocco in an AFcon qualifier game. The referee will be Tanguy Patrice Mebiame from Gabon. This has brought unsettling memories for the older generation as it reminds them of the controversial Zambia vs Morocco game of October 1993.
Jean-Fidèle Diramba was a referee from Gabon in a World Cup qualifier match in Casablanca between Zambia and Morocco just a few months after the Gabon disaster of 1993. He was accused of making decisions on the field that made Zambia fail to qualify. There was a near riot in the city of Lusaka days after the match and a complaint was even made to FIFA but Zambians still did not get what they wanted from FIFA. Diramba became a cursed name in Zambia. It was a very tense moment especially after losing the whole team in the plane crash in Gabon where coincidentally Diramba also hailed from.
A few years earlier in June 1989, Morocco lost a World Cup qualifier game to Zambia at Independence stadium in a goal that came in injury time. Morocco complained bitterly over this loss, and so this scenario later gave birth to some speculations that the Moroccans may have “bought” Diramba in the 1993 game as a way of revenging that loss.
In the picture on the left is Gabonese referee Tanguy Patrice Mebiame and on the right, Jean-Fidèle Diramba