Zambia were named Africa’s national soccer side of the year on Thursday at the Confederation of African Football (CAF) awards, which also saw a series of honors going to Egypt.
Zambia’s narrow win over power-house Ivory Coast in the African Cup of Nations final earlier this year was the key achievement that moved judges to honor “the Copper Bullets” as the continent’s top team.
The southern African nation beat out fellow nominees Ivory Coast and up-and-comer Cape Verde, coming off their best-ever season during which they qualified for the next edition of the Cup of Nations.
Zambia’s coach Herve Renard, a Frenchman credited with playing a key role in improving the side, was named coach of the year at the ceremony in Ghana’s capital.
The award for the top women’s team went to Equatorial Guinea, who hosted and won the eighth African women’s championship, beating South Africa in the final. It was the side’s second title in a competition often dominated by Nigeria, who have won six times.
Equatorial Guinea’s Genoveva Anoman was honored as the continent’s top female soccer player, after scoring six goals in the tournament.
It was a night full of awards for Egypt, with Cairo-based Al-Ahly named as club of the year after securing their seventh CAF Champions League crown.
The club’s star Mohamed Abourtreika took home the award for the best player based in Africa.
Egypt’s Mohamed Salah, 23, was named the most promising emerging talent after scoring in three of four matches for his country’s under-23 side at the London Olympics.
Mahmoud El-Gohary provided the fourth Egyptian triumph of the night, winning a Legend award for a range of both club and national titles won during the 74-year-old’s long professional career.
Rigobert Song, the defender from Cameroon, was also named an African soccer Legend, with the judges noting his two African championships.