BATA, Equatorial Guinea (AP) -Zambia is through to the final of the African Cup of Nations for the first time in 18 years after beating Ghana 1-0 on Wednesday from Emmanuel Mayuka’s late goal.
The second-half substitute scored in the 78th minute to punish Ghana for missing an early penalty. Striker Asamoah Gyan’s eighth-minute spot kick was saved by goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene.
Gyan’s penalty failure echoed his miss from the spot in the World Cup quarterfinal against Uruguay two years ago. On Wednesday, the striker was later substituted.
Zambia’s win sets up an emotional final in the Gabonese capital Libreville, where 25 players and officials were killed in a plane crash in 1993. Ivory Coast faces Mali later Wednesday in the other semifinal.
“This is the greatest moment ever a player can have to play in the final,” Zambia captain Christopher Katongo said. “We go to the final without any pressure. We have to take this cup, this is an opportunity. It doesn’t come every day.”
Zambia coach Herve Renard was full of praise for his players.
“It’s amazing,” Renard said. “They did something fantastic (in reaching the semifinals), but now they did something amazing.”
“We were lucky,” he added. “Our goalkeeper saved us after a few minutes.”
Ghana’s Derek Boateng was shown a late red card as his team sank to defeat. His team dominated possession and had a string of chances, but could find no way past the Zambia defense.
“We are sorry for the whole of Ghana for what happened today,” captain John Mensah said. “It’s unlucky that we lose this game. We promise them we will come back strongly next year.”
Ghana coach Goran Stevanovich snubbed the post-match news conference, while Gyan also avoided talking