Zambia's long-term plan earns African Cup success

MARK WALSH Associated Press Published:

BATA, Equatorial Guinea (AP) -- Zambia captain Christopher Katongo says the team's impressive march to the semifinals of the African Cup of Nations is "payback time" for a six-year development plan.

African football is notorious for short-term thinking, with foreign coaches often handed temporary contracts at the last minute before big tournaments and players falling in and out of favor.

Inspired by former playing great and current federation president Kalusha Bwalya, Zambia has opted to favor coaching continuity and keeping the same core of young players together.

Now the team is on the verge of a first African Cup final since 1994, while traditional African heavyweights like Nigeria, Cameroon and Egypt failed to even qualify for the tournament.