Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) this morning had a low-key commemoration of the 29th Gabon Memorial Anniversary at Heroes Acre.
FAZ President Andrew Kamanga led a group of officials from the Ministry, FAZ Officials, family members, ex-footballers and football fans marking the anniversary with a get-together.
Kamanga said the role of the Heroes can not be over emphasized.
Next year it will be three decades since two Gabon Air disaster and Kamanga has hinted at the Association hosting a game to commemorate the event.
“We cannot over-emphasize the role the heroes played, they sacrificed a lot, and they paid the ultimate price with their lives on national duty. Next year is going to be a big celebration, we hope we can organize some international game around the event,” he said.
“It will be a befitting gift to the fallen heroes if we can remember them with victory in 2023 but first, we need to qualify then we can think about how far we can go in the tournament. 2023 Africa Cup will be a special moment because it will be 30 years since the heroes died.”
Director of Sports John Zulu also joined the commemoration and says a day like this invokes mixed feelings.
“A day like this one invokes mixed feelings, you feel sad that we lost our heroes but at the same time when you remember who they were and what they brought and meant to our country,” he said.
“This is a team which was seen to be among the best teams in Africa and the world.”
Former FAZ President, Kalusha Bwalya who was a member of the squad took to social media to fondly remember the team.
He was not on that flight as he was supposed to fly to Senegal from Holland where he played for PSV Eindhoven at the time.
“Today marks the 29th year anniversary of the tragic Air Disaster that killed 30 of my countrymen , teammates and friends off the coast of Gabon.
To our gallant heroes we will never forget……….
You gave so much to Zambian football, you brought so much talent and spread so much joy, love and happiness to our people in this lifetime.
You laid the platform for Zambia to be African Champion in 2012 in Gabon.
May you continue to touch everyone at home and the world at large, who has ever played this game.
You are loved beyond words and missed beyond measure.
Always in our hearts.
Rest in Eternal Peace”- Wrote the 1988 African footballer of the year on his social media pages.
Eighteen players, technical staff, a FAZ president, crew and some government officials died on April 28, 1993, when a Zambia Air Force plane ferrying them to Dakar for USA 1994 World Cup qualifier crashed off the coast of Gabon.
The plane went down soon after a refuelling stop in Gabon while heading to Senegal for a 1994 World Cup qualifier against the Teranga Lions.
FULL LIST OF FALLEN HEROES
EFFORD CHABALA (MUFULIRA WANDERERS)
RICHARD MWANZA (KABWE WARRIORS)
JOHN SOKO (NKANA)
ESTON MULENGA (NKANA)
WHITESON CHANGWE (KABWE WARRIORS)
WINTER MUMBA (POWER DYNAMOS)
ROBERT WATIYAKENI (DYNAMOS FC-RSA)
SAMUEL CHOMBA (DYNAMOS-RSA)
DERBY MAKINKA (El TIFFAQF-SAUDI ARABIA)
MOSES CHIKWALAKWALA (NKANA)
MWILA NUMBA (NKANA)
WISDOM CHANSA (DYNAMOS FC-SA)
GODFREY KANGWA (OLYMPIC 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 (HEAD COACH)
ALEX CHOLA (ASSISTANT COACH)
WILSON MTONGA (TEAM DOCTOR)
MICHAEL MWAPE (FAZ CHAIRMAN)
NELSON ZIMBA (PUBLIC SERVANT)
JOSEPH SALIM BWALYA (JOURNALIST)
COLONEL FENTON MHONE (PILOT)
LT COLONEL VICTOR MUBANGA (PILOT)
LT COLONEL JAMES SACHIKA (PILOT)
WARRANT OFFICER EDWARD NAMBOTE (FITTER)
TOMSON SAKALA (STEWARD)