Zambia Eyes World Cup Qualification: Fashion Sakala Pays Tribute to 1993 Heroes
By Samson Mulambya Bagba | November 16, 2023
In the wake of Zambia’s emergence from the first round of qualifiers for the 1994 World Cup, tragedy struck, shattering the dreams of the Chipolopolo team on the fateful evening of April 27, 1993. The plane carrying the squad to Senegal for the second round of qualifiers crashed on the coast of Gabon, claiming the lives of the entire team. Now, thirty years later, a new generation of Chipolopolo players embarks on a journey to fulfill the unfulfilled dream.
As the current Chipolopolo team commences its quest for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, striker Fashion Sakala expresses the team’s determination to make history by qualifying for the tournament. The tragic events of 1993 serve as a poignant reminder of the dream that was abruptly cut short, and Sakala sees this qualification campaign as an opportunity to honor the legacy of the departed heroes.
“The dream hasn’t died. We are here to continue what they started and hopefully make it a reality,” affirms Sakala at the pre-match press briefing. “We are ready to fight for the points, and we know how important it is for the country.”
Sakala, a 26-year-old forward playing for Al Fayha Club in Saudi Arabia, shared the team’s aspiration to qualify for the World Cup, not just as a personal achievement but as a means of bringing the dream of the 1993 heroes back to life. He acknowledged the historical significance of the moment and expressed the team’s commitment to etching their names in history.
“Now we are also hearing stories about the team that crashed, that they almost qualified, and we are trying to bring that back,” Sakala explained. “We want to see if we can make the dream possible so that we can put ourselves in history.”
Drawing inspiration from his participation in the Zambia Under-20 side that qualified for the World Cup at that level, Sakala highlighted the unique challenges of the senior World Cup but emphasized the team’s determination to qualify. With a blend of experienced players and those who featured in the Under-20 World Cup, the Chipolopolo squad aims to recreate the positive experience and contribute to the nation’s pride.
As Zambia faces Congo Brazzaville in a critical showdown, the symbolism of this campaign goes beyond the field. It represents a journey of redemption, remembrance, and the pursuit of a dream that transcends generations. The kick-off is set for 18:00 hours CAT, and the nation holds its breath, hoping this chapter in Zambian football history brings a triumphant conclusion.