Zambia's Chipolopolo paid fitting tribute in style to the fallen heroes of the 1993 plane crash in Gabon by upstaging the Teranga Lions of Senegal 2-1 in a second opening Group A match of the day in Equatorial Guinea on Saturday evening to end the day on top of the group.
Emmanuel Mayuka and Rainsford Kalaba put Zambia 2-0 up in the opening 21 minutes which Senegal will wish to forget fast.
Chipolopolo played like possessed men. In fact the Zambians were an inspired lot as they had warned prior to the tournament that they will be playing at this year's AFCON to commemorate their fallen heroes.
Indeed the Southern Africans ran ragged the Lions' defence, tearing theminto shreds at will in the opening 10 minutes, in which their strikers took turns to miss clear chances.
There was no denying Mayuka when the umarked striker powerfully headed down a looping headed pass following a free-kick, to beat the badly exposed Bouna Coundoul who had previouslydodne wellto deny the Zambians an opener.
Seven minutes later, the Zambian captain Christopher Katongo sliced open the Lions'defence,picking up Kalaba who made a beautiful beat an ill-timed off-side trap from the confused Lions defence from, rounded the keeper superbly before hitting the net with Zambia's second.
The first half clearly belonged to Herve Renard's men and Amara Traore's much-fancied Senegal, many neutrals' title favourites, did not seem to have answers to Zambia's mazy runs, spirit and commitment.
The only thing worthy talking about for Senegal was Moussa Sow's near-post header from captain Mamadou Niang's free-kick towards the end of the first half, but Kennedy Mweene dived well to deny any Senegal come-back.
Three substitutions made by Traore by mid second half at least brought Senegal back into the game. Demba Ba came close on 64 minutes from a Kader Mangane cross.
Moments later, the Lions threatened the Zambian keeper Mweene's goal. This time,substitute, Papiss Demba Cisse, newly acquired by Newcastle, picked up his new club teammate Ba whose effort crashed against the pole to the chagrin of the Senegal bench.
Another substitute Dame N'Doye hit a sweet diagnal shot from a Guirane N'Daw pass. There was greatness written allover that goal. N'Doye chested N'Daw's high pass, before going for the kill.
However,the goal was a little too late for Senegal who failed to punish the Zambians who could only drag their tired legs towards the end, but credit to them, they held on to what is now regarded as a famous win.
There was nothing surprising about the manner the Zambians played last night. Those familiar with Renard's men know that they have the skill,speed and ability to convert chances.
Southern African teams like Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Angola can beat anyone on the continent on their day with good preparation and organisation. Thats the Zambians' story.
Well done to Chipolopolo! Senegal are by no means out of the tournament. They can regroup and beat Equatorial Guinea and Libya to qualify for the quarter-finals.