Because of the killing of its players, the best teams did not participate in the 1994 World Cup

From June 17 to July 17, 1994, the United States of America hosted the fifteenth edition of the FIFA World Cup.

In this version, Brazil won its fourth title after defeating the Italian national team in the final on penalties, coinciding with the end of the original time of the match, with a goalless draw.

The fifteenth edition of the FIFA World Cup also witnessed the participation of 3 African teams represented in Morocco, Nigeria and Cameroon.

On the other hand, the Zambia national team, which represented one of the best African teams at the time, was denied participation due to a plane accident that caused the death of its players.

One of the best African teams

Since the mid-1980s, Zambia has had a good football generation that quickly contributed to its emergence on the African and international football scene.

A picture of the Brazilian national team players crowned with the title

A picture of the Brazilian national team players crowned with the title

During the Olympic Games that were held in the South Korean capital, Seoul, in 1988, the Zambia Olympic team managed to defeat Italy with four goals to zero, including the Belgian club Cercle Brugge (Kalusha Bwalya) with three goals. During the African Cup of Nations hosted by Algeria in 1990, Zambia reached the semi-finals and finished third after defeating Senegal in the ranking match.

And with the end of the 1990 African Cup, the Zambia national team began preparing for the 1994 World Cup qualifiers, as those in charge pinned great hopes on it, stressing the ability of their team to reach the finals in the United States of America and achieve the 1994 African Cup that was to be held in Tunisia.

18 players killed

During the first stage of the qualifiers, the Zambia national team qualified easily to find itself in the second stage with a group that included the teams of Morocco and Senegal. Until the end of April 1993, the Zambians were optimistic about the possibility of their country qualifying for the 1994 World Cup in the United States of America.

A picture of a plane similar to the one that carried the Zambian national team

A picture of a plane similar to the one that carried the Zambian national team

On April 27, 1993, the Zambia national team’s plane, which was of the type DHC-5 (DHC-5), left Lusaka Airport, heading towards the Senegalese capital, Dakar, for one of the qualifying matches. At that time, the Zambia national team’s plane was scheduled to stop three times in Brazzaville, Libreville and Abidjan to refuel before continuing to Dakar.

When they made their first stop in Brazzaville, officials noticed engine problems. Instead of stopping, the plane continued on its way to Libreville, Gabon. Shortly after leaving the second station, flames rose from the plane’s left engine.

1994 World Cup logo

1994 World Cup logo

In error, the pilot of the plane deliberately turned off the right engine instead of the left one, and the plane lost its balance and fell into the sea 500 meters from the coast of Gabon.

It is noteworthy that the accident resulted in the death of 30 passengers who were on board the plane.

Among those who died were 18 players from the Zambian national team, in addition to the coach and a number of his assistants. In a report issued during the same period, the Gabonese investigators suggested that the pilot of the plane committed this fatal error due to fatigue and exhaustion.

In addition, Zambia was unable to qualify for the FIFA World Cup in the United States of America with the loss of its best players, as its team finished second, one point behind Morocco, which topped the group.

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