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Emmanuel Mayuka of Zambia performs a bacflip as he celebrates a goal by Felix Katongo of Zambia
© Getty Images

Qualification history
As one of Africa’s most consistent sides over the last three decades, Zambia must feel that the time is right for them to reach the FIFA World Cup™. They were a point away from USA 1994, and it was during that campaign that an airplane tragedy killed most of the national team. Since then, they have always been in the mix without ever getting to the brink, losing out to Togo, Egypt, Algeria and Ghana over the years.

The team
The Chipolopolo currently do not have a player of the stature of former African Footballer of the Year Kalusha Bwalya, but they draw strength from their unity and often flamboyant talent. Several of their players have been signed by big-spending TP Mazembe and are gaining valuable experience in the CAF Champions League.

The coach
Wedson Nyirenda was named head coach of Zambia in October 2016. Nyirenda is well known for his time at Zambian club side Zesco United. He also has managerial experience in Mozambique with Ferroviaro de Beira.

The stat
25 **–
Russia 2018 will take place a quarter of a century after the Zambian air disaster in which 18 international players and a dozen others were killed.

The former stars **
Kalusha Bwalya, Dickson Makwaza, Christopher Katongo, Joseph Musonda, Charles Musonda