Zambia arrive home to heroes' welcome
© AFP

Zambia's national team arrived home on Monday to an ecstatic welcome from thousands of fans who gathered to greet the Copper Bullets after they won the country's first CAF Africa Cup of Nations title.

Brandishing the gold trophy they claimed in a nail-biting penalty shoot-out against Cote d'Ivoire on Sunday, the African champions waved to a massive crowd that had been gathering for more than nine hours in sweltering heat at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in the capital, Lusaka.

The team then boarded a bus for the Lusaka showgrounds, where official celebrations will be held and where another massive crowd dressed in the orange, green and black of the national team awaited.

"My hero is Mweene, he is the one that made us win!" said Antony Kabwe, referring to keeper Kennedy Mweene, who was decisive in the victory.

Another fan, Catherine Mbao, said she was excited to get a glimpse of the trophy the country had lifted for the first time in Libreville's Stade de l'Amitie in the early morning hours local time. "I have seen the trophy, I just used to see it on TV," she said.

Fans at the airport held placards that celebrated the victory of Chipolopolo (Copper Bullets, named for the country's chief export) and derided the much-favoured Elephants.

Shouting above the deafening roar of vuvuzelas, the long plastic trumpets made famous by the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ in South Africa, Angela Chanda said the victory added to excitement around the new regime of President Michael Sata, who won office in September after beating a party that had been in power for 20 years. "We have a new government and things are moving our way," she said.