Today marks 28 years since the Zambia National Team perished off the coast of Gabon.
A team comprising 18 players, technical bench, crew, and others were on their way to fulfilling a USA 1994 World Cup qualifier against Senegal in Dakar. The plane had stopped over in Libreville to refuel but crashed moments after take-off marking the darkest moment in the Zambian game.
It has been a painful 28-year journey that has often left soccer fans wondering what could have been had that team of highly talented footballers lived to see off the world cup journey they had started.
The team had been riding high having seen off Mauritius 3-0 courtesy of a Kelvin ‘Malaza’ Mutale hat trick in an Africa Cup qualifier with attention shifting to the 1994 USA World Cup qualifier against Senegal in Dakar.
As the nation reflects on that moment this morning, few officials from FAZ, Ministry of Youth Sport and Child Development and family members will gather at Heroes Acre lying within the confines of the Old Independence Stadium where the fallen heroes gallantry won many battles.
With government decreeing that the official memorial functions will be held every five years, the event today will be low-key but nonetheless as significant as any memorial. A football match pitting the pre-Gabon disaster heroes and the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations winning sides has been organized at National Heroes Stadium.
Full List of Fallen Heroes
Efford Chabala (Mufulira Wanderers), Richard Mwanza (Kabwe Warriors)
John Soko, Eston Mulenga (both Nkana), Whiteson Changwe (Kabwe Warriors), Robert Watiyakeni (Dynamos FC-RSA), Winter Mumba (Power Dynamos), Samuel Chomba (Dynamos-RSA)
Derby Makinka (El Tiffaq-Saudi Arabia), Moses Chikwalakwala, Numba Mwila (both Nkana), Wisdom Chansa (Dynamos FC-SA), Godfrey Kangwa (Olympique Casablanca-Morocco)
Kelvin ‘Malaza’ Mutale (El-Tiffaq-Saudi Arabia), Timothy Mwitwa (Nkana), Moses Masuwa (Kabwe Warriors), Kenan Simambe (Nkana), Patrick ‘Bomber’ Banda (Profund Warriors)
Godfrey “Ucar” Chitalu (coach), Alex Chola (assistant coach), Wilson Mtonga (doctor), Wilson Sakala
Michael Mwape (FAZ Chairman), Nelson Zimba (public servant), Joseph Bwalya Salim (journalist)
Colonel Fenton Mhone (pilot), Lt Colonel Victor Mubanga (pilot), Lt Colonel James Sachika (pilot)
Warrant Officer Edward Nambote (fitter), Corporal Tomson Sakala (steward)