On the evening of 27 April 1993, a DHC-5 Buffalo transport aircraft of the Zambian Air Force crashed into the Atlantic Ocean shortly after taking off from Libreville, Gabon. The flight was carrying most of the Zambian national football team to a FIFA World Cup Qualifier against Senegal in Dakar
At 10pm local time on Saturday, Zambia will walk out to face Senegal at the new stadium in Bata, Equatorial Guinea. It will be the second match at this year’s African Cup of Nations, and the minds of most of the crowd may still be on the opening game, which will have just finished at the same stadium. Not Zambian minds, though; they’ll be much further away. They’ll be thinking of 27 April 1993, when another Zambia team set off to play Senegal in a World Cup qualifier. That team, the best Zambia has ever had and potentially one of the greatest in African history, never arrived.
This will be the 10th time the sides have met since then, but what makes this game particularly poignant is that it was just a few miles south of Bata that their plane went down, crashing into the Atlantic shortly after refuelling in the Gabonese capital, Livrebelle.
It was a very tragic moment.