Just like their matches against Senegal and Ghana, Zambia didn't look like the underdogs in the first 45 minutes of the Africa Cup of Nations final against the Ivory Coast. While Les Elephants haven't looked poor and have done enough to keep their opponents off the scoreboard, there's been very little separating the two teams, and the Copper Bullets deserve to go into halftime with the score tied at 0-0.
Didier Drogba is working hard off the ball and his defense is holding up, but the Ivory Coast midfielders and wide players aren't dominating the game like they should be. In the latter part of the second half, Zambia was able to bypass the midfield entirely on a few occasions as the game started to open up.
The Copper Bullets got off to a brilliant start with a clear-cut scoring chance in the second minute. A fantastically worked short corner kick set up Nathan Sinkala with an open shot at the far post, but he put it in a spot that allowed Boubacar Barry to make a save.
Zambia appeared to suffer a serious blow in the 5th minute when 34-year-old starting left back Joseph Musonda, making his 100th appearance for his country, picked up an ankle injury while making a last-ditch tackle on Drogba to prevent a scoring chance. He attempted to continue, but was replaced in the 11th minute. As he was coming off for possibly the final time in a competitive match for his country, he was visibly crying and, in a show of class, was consoled by Drogba. Nyambe Mulenga entered the game and slotted into Musonda's left back position.
Emmanuel Mayuka, the Zambia striker who scored the game-winning goal against Ghana, had one terrific opportunity in the 14th minute. Les Elephants fell asleep on a throw-in that resulted in a Chisamba Lungu cross to the back post. Mayuka wasn't able to get over the header completely and hit his effort over the bar.
The Ivory Coast's best chance came in the 30th minute, on a brilliantly worked passing move. At the end of it, Drogba picked up a low cross into the box and played a great backheel into the path of Yaya Toure. The Manchester City man had plenty to shoot at, but curled his effort wide from 12 yards out.