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Renard: Title win was our destiny
Published : 13 Feb 2012 12:17:05
Zambia coach Herve Renard dedicated his side's African Nations Cup victory to Kalusha Bwalya and the fallen squad of 1993, claiming it was "written in the sky".
The Chipolopolo beat the Ivory Coast 8-7 on penalties after a goalless final on Sunday in Libreville - the scene of a plane crash 19 years ago that killed 18 players, en route to a World Cup qualifier against Senegal, which defines the country's modern footballing history.
Star player Kalusha, now the Zambian FA president, only survived as he had travelled separately from Holland, where he was playing for PSV Eindhoven, and Renard told ESPN Soccernet: "Kalusha was one of the best Zambian players of the last century. Then he was coach of the national team, now our president."
He added: "He survived the crash - he was supposed to have been on that plane which was going to play a World Cup qualifier against Senegal. He knows how terrible this crash was for the nation. I want to dedicate this title to him."
"We wanted to honour the dead players and that strengthened us.
"Our first game (in this year's tournament) was against Senegal and the team was on its way to Senegal for a match when the plane crashed. The plane crashed in Gabon and we won the final in Gabon.
"It was a sign of destiny, written in the sky. There was a force with us. I think God has helped us and given us strength."
It was Zambia's first Nations Cup title and their third final, including in 1994 when Kalusha led a makeshift squad to within one hurdle of glory.
"I said to the players that a team of 'replacements' took Zambia to the final in 1994, so why not us?" said Renard.
"We always believed and said this was our time. Winning on penalties is perhaps not the best way, but we cannot complain. It is cruel for the Ivory Coast, but we deserved it."