By Muambo Edward
Football Writer, kick442.com – Cameroon
It is 27 years to this day, since the Zambian national team suffered a fatal plane crash that claimed almost an entire generation of very promising Zambian players.
25 passengers and five crew members all perished on April 27, 1993, on board a DHC-5 Buffalo transport aircraft of the Zambian Air Force after the plane crashed into the Atlantic Ocean shortly after leaving Gabon.
The Zambian national team was on its way to Dakar to face Senegal in a 1994 FIFA World Cup qualifier.
Coach Godfrey Chitalu and his assistant Alex Chola alongside 18 of some of the most promising players the continent could boast of all perished in that tragic accident.
Then team captain Kalusha Bwalya was not on board as well as Charles Musonda for different reasons.
Kalusha’s Dutch club PSV Eindhoven had made arrangements for him to join with the team later, while Anderlecht’s Charles Musonda was not on the flight due to injury.
Zambia lost: Efford Chabala, promising forward Patrick Banda, Kevin Mutale, Derby Makinka, Eston Mulenga, Winter Mumba, Timothy Mwitwa, Wisdom Mumba Chansa, John Soko, Whiteson Changwe, Robert Watiyakeni, Moses Chikwalakwala, Numba Mwila, Richard Mwanza, Samuel Chomba, Moses Masuwa, Kenan Simambe and Godfrey Kangwa.
Investigations into the cause of the accident have revealed that the pilot had shut down the wrong engine following an engine fire. The investigations also revealed the accident was as a result of pilot fatigue and a faulty instrument.
The players and coaches of the national team killed in the crash were buried in what became known as “Heroes’ Acre”outside Lusaka’s Independence Stadium .
In 2012 a Zambian team that no one believed in came to Gabon and walked away with the country’s only AFCON trophy, in the city of Libreville where they lost their compatriots on a similar course, fighting for the honour and glory of their country.
Two years after the AFCON triumph a 60000 seater stadium[Heroes National Stadium] was opened in Lusaka and named after the fallen Heroes.
These Zambian and African heroes will forever be remembered for after all, it is said ‘heroes are forever’.
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