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Triumph on Sacred Ground
Leigh Montville
October 18, 1993
After the Zambian soccer team perished in a plane crash, a new team rose to bring hope to a troubled nation
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October 18, 1993

Triumph On Sacred Ground

After the Zambian soccer team perished in a plane crash, a new team rose to bring hope to a troubled nation

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"I still think these guys are going to show up one of these days," Kalusha says. "These were boys with ambition. All of them. The back line had played together, intact, forever. The keeper, Chabala. My friends. I see their families suffering now, and it bothers me so much. All of them."

He sighs.

"It will be all right," Kalusha finally says. "In Africa we believe that the spirits must be satisfied. If someone dies, everything must be done properly for that person. Everything has been done properly here. These are the spirits behind us. They are not forgotten."

Less than two weeks later, far removed from all of this, you call the sports department of your local American newspaper on a Sunday afternoon. The baseball playoffs are in progress and the NFL is going strong and the No. 1 and No. 3 teams in college football played each other on Saturday. You ask for the score that interests you most, the one from Casablanca.

"Morocco 1, Zambia 0," an anonymous voice answers.

You take a moment to digest the news. The most dramatic story of the World Cup is finished before it reached the American stage. You share the heartbreak, long distance.

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