FORMER Zambia international towering central defender Elijah Litana was among ex national players taking part in the Gabon Air Disaster memorial match involving Legends vs KK11 at National Heroes Stadium in Lusaka. It ended in a 3-3 draw. Litana, born on December 5 1970, was part of the new squad quickly assembled following the air crash. The new squad later went on to shock the continent by reaching the final in the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations just six months later. They finished as runners-up following their 2-1 loss to eventual winners, Nigeria. Litana was the scorer of Zambia’s only goal with a powerful header, before the Super Eagles came from behind to lift the cup. The same year, Litana together with his central defense partner, late Harrison Chongo, were voted as the best central defense pairing on the African continent.

Two years later, at the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa, the former Roan United player helped Zambia finish third after contributing a goal in the quarterfinals’ 3-1 win over North African heavyweights Egypt. At club level, Litana left Roan United in 1995 to join Al-Hilal of Sudan and won the league with them the same year. He stayed with the club for five years before his football career ended prematurely in July 2000, aged 29.

He was sidelined from playing football after a firearm accident which has many theories. It is believed he shot himself in the kneecap as he was cleaning his pistol. Litana is now 50 years old and settled on a farm on the Copperbelt, just outside the friendly city of Ndola. The match was also graced by Zambia’s Infrastructure and Housing Minister, Vincent Mwale, who was invited as a guest player at the National Heroes Stadium in Lusaka. The match was in remembrance of the Zambia national football team players, officials and crew members who died in the air crash in 1993.”I am humbled to have been invited as a guest player in the game between Legends vs KK 11 at Heroes Stadium. The game ended 3-3, we played the game to remember our departed heroes who remain forever in our hearts,” the minister wrote on his Facebook page.- Zambia Soccer Magazine