Football: Porterfield's dream

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The Independent Online
IF Ian Porterfield, the coach of Zambia, steers his side to success in the final of the African Nations' Cup in Tunis on 10 April, it will be an achievement that will eclipse even his winning goal for Sunderland in the 1973 FA Cup final, writes Rupert Metcalf.

Zambia edged out Zimbabwe and South Africa to qualify for the finals in Tunisia, which start today, despite losing 18 players in an air crash off the coast of Gabon last year. Porterfield, the former Chelsea and Aberdeen manager, took on the task of rebuilding the team. He could not quite guide Zambia to the World Cup finals, but winning a place in Tunisia thanks to a draw in Zimbabwe just three months after the crash was ample compensation.

Zambia's first-round opponents in Group C are the holders, Ivory Coast, and Sierra Leone. Only the bottom team in the four groups fail to progress to the quarter-finals. Of Africa's three World Cup finalists, only Nigeria are in Tunisia.

AFRICAN NATIONS' CUP Finals (all matches in Tunis unless stated): First round: Today: Group A: Tunisia v Mali (3.0); Group B: Nigeria v Gabon (5.15). Tomorrow: Group C: Ivory Coast v Sierra Leone (4.0, Sousse); Group D: Ghana v Guinea (6.15, Sousse). 28 Mar: Group A: Zaire v Mali (4.0); Group B: Egypt v Gabon (6.15). 29 Mar: Group C: Zambia v Sierra Leone (4.0, Sousse); Group D: Senegal v Guinea (6.15, Sousse). 30 Mar: Group A: Tunisia v Zaire (3.0); Group B: Nigeria v Egypt (5.15). 31 Mar: Group C: Ivory Coast v Zambia (4.0, Sousse); Group D: Ghana v Senegal (6.15, Sousse). Quarter-finals: 2 Apr (2.0 and 5.0, Tunis); 3 Apr (3.0 and 6.0, Sousse). Semi-finals: 6 Apr (2.0 and 5.0, Tunis). Third-place play-off: 10 Apr (1.30, Tunis). Final: 10 Apr (4.0, Tunis).