The semi final match, Zambia versus Ghana, on 8th February 2012 was a thrilling encounter right from the word go. The match took place in Bata, Equatorial Guinea, co hosts of the African cup of Nations [AFCON] together with Gabon.
The match was touted as the match of the tournament even before it was played. Ghana was favored to go all the way in the tournament.
Unlike the Ghanaian team which was laden with players from European teams, the Zambian team was composed mostly of local players from the Zambian domestic league with a few players from abroad.
The first half saw the Ghanaians [black stars] taking command of the proceedings and the Zambians had to do a lot of defending. It was all Ghana in the first half but they missed a lot of scoring chances. Zambia, who had started brilliantly on an attacking note where pushed back to defend. The Zambia versus Ghana match was a must win for both sides but only one winner was needed to proceed to the next round.
The Zambian goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene was at his best and did some excellent saves, including a penalty from Ghanaian striker Gyan in the first half. The chipolopolo [Zambian national soccer team] was stretched by Ghana and they lived dangerously most of the first half. However, the Ghanaians failed to translate the numerous chances into goals.
The second half introduction of Emmanuel Mayuka, Chisamba Lungu and Nathan Sinkala brought some new lease of life to the Zambians who had been defending relentlessly. The striking force was sharpened with the introduction of the players.
The ball game changed in the second half in Zambia's favor and the Ghanaians were put on the defensive. The heat of the game saw one Ghanaian player sent off for foul play and the black stars were down to 10 men. This was to the advantage of the Zambians who turned the Ghanaian shortfall to their gain.
The second half substitutes proved their worth when Emmanuel Mayuka scored in the 78th minute from a cross by Chisamba Lungu, a fellow substitute, to give the Zambians a one goal lead. The lone goal did not prevent the Zambians from playing attacking football and they went all out with their flair of attacking football seeking another goal.
The Ghanaians tightened their defense and made a couple of substitutions to try to level things up. But time wasn't on their side and the much talked about Zambia versus Ghana match ended 1–0 in Zambians favor.
There was wild celebration at Zambia's victory over Ghana. This is the third time the country has been finalists, coming second best on the last two occasions. This time around, they believe they can do better.
The win takes Zambia to the finals of the Africa cup against another West African team, Ivory Coast [Corte D'Ivoire]. The final takes place in Libreville, Gabon on the 12 February 2012.
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