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Nations Cup Day 19 as it unfolded

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SEMI-FINALS:

Zambia 1-0 Ghana, Bata (FT)

Mali 0-1 Ivory Coast, Libreville (FT)

By Piers Edwards

2105: Well, that's it for tonight, so join us again on Saturday for updates from the third-place play-off between Ghana and Mali. While that may be a footnote for most, the same cannot be said of the final - when Zambia's marauding Chipolopolo will take on the meanest defence in this competition, Ivory Coast's Elephants. With the spirit of 1993 in the air, can the Zambians clinch a fairytale win - or will this generation of Ivorian stars finally live up to their billing? All will be revealed from 1900 GMT when Sunday's final kicks off in Libreville. It's been a tournament of surprises - and is there one final one left to stun us all?

2057: Gervinho, in a post-match interview, says "It's a long time since we've been in the final. We're very happy to be in the final. We have great quality." They certainly do and the Ivorians are into their third finals - and on course for their first triumph since 1992. Facing them will be another side in orange, Zambia, and the contrast in styles will make for an intriguing decider.

Chilala Muchindu from Sheffield has texted in to say ... "Even if we lose in the final, nothing can wipe this smile off my face - I will witness Zambia in a major final for the first time. Priceless."

2053: Labelled chokers before these finals, the Ivorians are showing their class - reaching the final with five wins from five, nine goals scored and none conceded. They won tonight's game thanks to Gervinho's late first-half goal, and will play Zambia in Sunday's final in Libreville. Tonight's performance was far from polished but they rarely looked troubled at the back and the Elephants are now dancing a jig of delighted near their fans. Cheik Tiote kisses the turf in celebration - as the Elephants reach the final for the first time since 2006.

Meanwhile, Mali's terrible run in the Nations Cup semi-finals continues - the Eagles having lost their last four matches at this stage of the tournament. They will now contest Saturday's third-place play-off against Ghana in Malabo. A match no one wants to play.

2052: IVORY COAST WILL PLAY ZAMBIA IN THE FINAL OF THE 2012 AFRICA CUP OF NATIONS

2052: FULL TIME! Mali 0-1 Ivory Coast

2050: Another yellow card comes out - this time for time wasting - and it is Tiene who is booked.

2049: Free-kick to Ivory Coast winds down the clock but they lose possession and Zokora hacks high into the stands. Zokora seems to have cramp. The Malians are unhappy and an exchange of words are going on between Diabate and Bamba. Unimpressed would be one way of describing the Malian's expression.

2048: Four minutes of added time at the end of the game. Is there a sting in the tail?

2047: The Ivorians are on their feet inside the stadium and jumping up and down. Meanwhile, Samba Diakite is booked. While Ivory Coast get set to make another change. Into the last minute. The change is made as Didier Ya Konan replaces Yaya Toure. Is that job done for him?

2045: Seydou Keita turns well and tries to strike at goal but is crowded out on the penalty spot. Free-kick to Mali and the Eagles are forcing the play at this late stage. Keita takes the set-piece as the Eagles pile into the box, but Zokora clears and Gervinho brings it away.

2044: Four minutes to play - the Ivorians are closing in on a final clash against Zambia on Sunday...

2042: Mali force a corner but Dembele fires horribly wide from 35 yards, and that strike was only threatening the corner flag. A late rally from Mali but they need more.

2041: Cheik Tiote receives a caution and Mali have a free-kick - which is delayed as Samba Sow is replaced by Fantamady Cheikh Diarra. But the set-piece comes to nothing.

2040: Free-kick to Ivory Coast near the corner flag. Tiene swings in and it needs just a touch to go in - it gets one, but from Berthe who flicks behind and just over the crossbar. Could have gone anywhere.

2038: Yaya Toure puts his head in his hands after he attacks the corner but fails to get over the ball and heads over. Great chance and you can understand why the African Footballer of the Year is disappointing.

2036: Salomon Kalou, who had been a doubt at one point for this game, is off, and Abdul Kader Keita is off. Keita takes an Ivorian corner with his first touch, which is cleared, before the Ivorians force another corner as Tamboura heads away under pressure from Sol Bamba.

2035: Can Drogba make it two and wrap up the points? It looks like he can as he powers into the penalty box but Diakite charges out to narrow the angle and Drogba's shot deflects off him, up into the air before a Malian defender scrambles it clear.

2033: Mali lose possession, gifting the ball to goalscorer Gervinho who feeds Drogba, who was felled - but no foul given. Instead, Mali drive forward through Adama Tamboura but he is tackled and the Elephants come forward again. Yaya Toure has some space to fashion a shot but curls tamely into the arms of Diakite. A better spell of play after so many interruptions to this game.

2030: Diakite goes on a terrific run, driving right at the Elephants, and the ball eventually finds its way to Yatabare, who fires over - but that was better from Mali and the QPR loan signing gave them great hope with a surging run. Yatabare goes off, as Garra Dembele - who scored against Botswana in the group stages and used to have Papiss Demba Cisse as a partner at Freiburg - comes on. Just over 16 minutes to play.

2027: Whistles ring out inside the Stade de l'Amitie as the tv screens show pictures of Mali coach Alain Giresse, who knocked out Gabon on Sunday - a side he used to coach of course.

2025: Into the final quarter, and Mali have yet to threaten the Ivorian goal in this half. A number of the Eagles players look tired following their exertions on Sunday.

2022: Drogba and Kalou hug as the latter thinks he has made it two, only for Diakite to tip Kalou's 16-yard effort over the bar. Corner to the Elephants creates chaos as Diabate turns his back on the ball, allowing it to bounce towards goal before Berthe puts everything through it and hacks away into the Libreville sky to clear the danger. Anywhere will do.

2022: A rare break in this second period as Gervinho jinks his way to the byline but Berthe slows him up and the ball is out for a goal kick. Did we have all the action in the first half?

2021: Another break in play, as another player goes down - this time, Ivorian midfielder Didier Zokora. This will suit the Elephants, but it must be frustrating for the Eagles as they try to claw their way back into the game.

2019: It's scrappy, very scrappy in Libreville - where free-kicks and knocks have slowed down this second half. Mali played 120 minutes on Sunday, so what have they got in the tank? It's going to take a real effort to pull this one back - especially against an Ivorian side who cruised to a regulation time against Eq Guinea on Saturday.

2017: We're approaching the hour mark and the next goal will surely decide this game. A two-goal lead for the Elephants would surely kill off the Mali challenge, while a Malian equaliser would make for some thrilling final changes.

2014: Some hesitation in the Mali defence and just for a moment, Sol Bamba - who stayed upfield for a free-kick - looks as though he might profit and latch onto Yaya Toure's through ball, but purple-clad Diakite finally emerges from goal to smother the danger.

2013: Seydou Keita has a crack at goal that goes out for a throw as the Mali fans urge their team on. Keita again finds some space and once again, his shot is disappointing as it dribbles some 15 yards wide of Barry's left-hand upright.

2011: No they can't and instead the Ivorians have a chance to counter, before the Malians win the ball back, as the game continues its relentless ebb-and-flow. Yaya Toure thinks he should have won a free-kick after Samba Sow slid in to dispossess him. No decision given even though the Manchester City gets up groggily after the Malians sportingly kick the ball out of play.

2010: You wouldn't know his team were winning, as Ivory Coast coach Francois Zahoui looks on impassively and without a hint of joy on his face. But he's made his ambitions clear and a man who played his football in Italy has certainly set up his defence in vice-like fashion. Can the Eagles find a way through? They win a corner, so can they do more with it?

2007: Oooh - that looked painful. Boubacar Barry goes across to his left in the Ivorian goal to gather a long-range strike - and crashes into his own post while doing so. Not what a man who came into the game with a knock anyway needed. He's up and okay though, but that's worth keeping an eye on.

2006: Ivory Coast threaten in the opening minute but Ousmane Berthe heads clear as Drogba and Toure carve an opening down the right flank.

2005: Mali's Seydou Keita wants Didier Zokora to be booked - waving his hands to suggest so - but the referee ignores him. To the delight of many watching neutrals, no doubt.

2003: Mali coach Alain Giresse has made a change as the Eagles get the second half under way. Drissa Diakite, who had been operating down the right flank, comes off, with Ousmane Coulibaly replacing him. Massive 45 minutes for the Eagles as they try to force their way back into this match. Remember - they haven't won a semi-final since winning their first way back in 1972.

2000: The players are inside the tunnel and waiting to come out. Some nervous faces among the Malians - as they try to recover from Gervinho's late first-half goal. Could Mali goalkeeper Diakite have done more to stop him though? The Eagles' stopper was hugging his line, so giving Gervinho room to pick his spot.

1951: More texts in about the day's earlier game. "Nor matter how long it takes, a stammering child will say his father's name. Zambia has been patient for a long time - and I'm pretty sure this is our time. From Mubita Lubinda in Lusaka, Zambia."

And some reaction from the players themselves. "This is the greatest moment that a player can ever have to play in the final," said Zambia captain Christopher Katongo. "We go to the final without any pressure. We have to take this cup, this is an opportunity. It doesn't come every day."

Meanwhile, Black Stars skipper John Mensah has apologised to his nation following the 1-0 defeat in Bata earlier today. "We are sorry for the whole of Ghana for what happened today," he said. "It's unlucky that we lost this game. We promise them we will come back strongly next year." The familiar refrain of football fans and players - always next year...

1946: The half-time whistle blows and the Ivorians are in front - and deservedly so. They had hit the post twice before Gervinho opened the scoring on the stroke of half-time with his fine run and finish. The Ivorian was kissing his badge as he walked off the pitch - and the Elephants have one of their feet in the finals. Meanwhile, Mali are faced with that most troubling of tasks - having to score the first goal against the Ivorians at the finals if they are to stay on course to reach the final.

1945: At long last, Gervinho scores his first goal of the finals. And he does it the hard way, running from inside his own half after beating Berthe on the halfway line. That said, there was no challenge on the Ivorian forward as he ran 55 yards or so before curling into the far corner from a tight angle. Great finish, great goal - but terrible defending.

1944: GOAL! Mali 0-1 Ivory Coast (Gervinho)

1942: Kalou tries his luck again - from similar range - but once again, his strike fails to trouble Diakite. It's been largely one-way traffic regarding shots on target but the Malians are still level, and still very much in this game.

1940: The game has slackened a little as half-time approaches. Still, the Ivorians are enjoying the better of it - and Kalou fires another chance over the bar as he tries to curl home with his left foot from outside the penalty area.

1936: Patient from Mali as they try to find a way past the Ivorian defence. Good spell of possession but they can't get find a way past the thick orange line. The Elephants are looking solid at the back. At the other end, Drogba is played in with a fine slide-rule pass from Yaya Toure but the skipper miscontrols in a promising position.

(Meanwhile, for those of you following this page in devoted fashion and who may have missed the news - and are interested, England coach Fabio Capello has resigned because of the row over John Terry's captaincy.)

1933: Well, somehow this game is still goalless but I'm not sure how. It's certainly not because the goalkeepers have made fine saves, more that chances have hit the post or been wasted. Nonethless, it has flown by - and the Ivorians are certainly ahead on points. Mali fighting for their lives.

1932: Didier Drogba in the thick of things again. He collects a long diagonal ball inside the D before driving into space in the box, going past two Malians, but he drags his shot across goal just when it had opened up for him. Excellent chance for the Ivorian captain.

1929: Diakite is tested again in the Mali goal but this shot from Salomon Kalou is fairly tame, side-footed straight at the Mali stopper from the edge of the box. Mali instantly fly up the other end only for their move to end in the penalty box and, once again, seconds later, the play is inside the Malian area as Didier Drogba is felled in the box - but without claiming a penalty. Super tackle from Cedric Kante, who has excelled at these championships for me.

1926: Mali are slowly making an impact and their defence is finally having something of a breather as the midfield and forwards finally enjoy some possession up front. It's taken a while but the Eagles are finally finding their feet.

1925: Still lots of texts coming in about Zambia's defeat of Ghana in today's first semi-final. "What happed to Ghana must be a lesson to all African countries - train home-based players and forget these big names and European-based players. Ibrahim. Norway" A fair few people have this view but how does that apply to the Ivorians - who are seemingly powering on at these finals - with a host of Europe-based stars?

1922: Drogba has another crack at goal but this time, he looks more like a Sunday morning park player than a Premier League star - as he blazes over with an optimistic strike from 30 yards. His first two efforts, inside the opening minutes, were far more potent, so Diakite will be relieved to see him take harmless pot-shots from there.

1921: Another corner to Mali and once again, it is poorly used - as the set-piece sails into the arms of Boubacar Barry.

1920: This is end-to-end stuff. Just seconds later, Kalou bursts past the Malian defence - he could easily have gone down to win a penalty - but he doesn't and instead slips his shot into the side netting from a tight angle, having glided past Diakite. Terrific game so far.

1919: Mali make their first serious chance of the game. A free-flowing move ends with the ball at Diabate's feet and after he is denied, Yatabare cannot convert from close range.

1917: Again, the Elephants threaten - this time it's Siaka Tiene who pushes forward from left-back and finds Gervinho with a terrific cross - only for the Arsenal man to head over and off-target.

1916: The Malian goal is taking a battering. After Drogba's early effort, Yaya Toure shudders the uprights as he runs onto a square pass from Salomon Kalou inside the box before thumping against the right-hand post from 7-8 yards out. Terrific hit - but the ball bounces out into the heart of the penalty area and away to safety. What must Diakite be thinking in the Mali goal? Because he is under serious pressure.

1914: Gervinho breaks but overhits his cross to Salomon Kalou, who leaps up but without any real conviction. The Malian fans roar their approval at the wasted opportunity. Still goalless with just a quarter of an hour played.

1913: Another break in play as Gervinho receives treatment after a clash with Berthe. Players take on some drinks following this break in play, before the Ivorians return the ball downfield for a Mali goalkick. A heavy downpour preceded this match, but the pitch is holding up so far.

1911: Mali win their first corner of the match as Diabate's effort from the D is bravely deflected over by Ivorian centre-back Sol Bamba. The corner is wasted though - not for the first time at these finals by the Malians. Because the Eagles wasted a number of corners against Gabon on Sunday, with Yatabare particularly guilty.

1910: 10 minutes gone and Mali have weathered the early storm, but with two players having gone into the book. Will that cost them late on - as it did Ghana after they lost Derek Boateng in today's first semi-final?

1908: Mali have their first attack, as Seydou Keita's shot from outside the box is quickly closed down, but that relieves some of the pressure on their defence.

1907: Drogba seems on a mission tonight, firing in a free-kick from way out, some 30 yards or so, but Soumaila Diakite gets down low to push behind for a corner. Corner is cleared but Mali are under intense pressure here.

1906: Drogba gets up to meet the free-kick and heads down - but against the post from just six yards out. Five minutes gone and this is a purposeful start from the Ivorians. Meanwhile, the first booking of the match goes to Ousmane Berthe - and also to Seydou Keita - as South African referee Daniel Bennett gets his cards out.

1903: Free-kick to Ivory Coast midway through the Mali half. Yaya Toure's delivery is headed away though, and the Elephants are forced to build from the back. They do so well, winning a free-kick near the corner flag - and Mali have yet to get a real kick, apart from on an Ivorian, that is.

1902: Ivory Coast launch a swift attack through Gervinho and Salomon Kalou but the defence clears their lines before anyone can have a shot on goal. A move full of intent from the Ivorians however.

1901: An untidy start as Mali's Samba Diakite is fouled by Ivory Coast's Cheik Tiote. Back in play though.

1900: Ivory Coast kick off the second semi-final of the day in Libreville against Mali - with both sides bidding to stay in the Gabonese capital to meet Zambia in Sunday's final.

1858: As the players hold a minute's silence for those who died in Egypt last week, Babar has texted in from Toronto, Canada, to say "Drogba to score in 2-1 Elephants win." I'm sure there was a famous elephant once called Babar - and I think this texter might just be an Elephant fan to boot.

1855: Mali's players looked stern as their national anthem rang out, and the Ivorians are looking similarly focussed. Salomon Kalou has NFL-style warpaint under his eyes - which is unusual - but he has also taken to call himself 'Kalunho' at these finals, so perhaps he's enjoying his time away from the Premier League. Meanwhile, Gabon president Ali Bongo - sitting next to Pele - is now shaking the hands of Michel Platini. Some big names inside the stadium.

1852: The teams are out now - Ivory Coast in their familiar all-orange strip while Mali are all in white. Ivory Coast are bidding to reach their third final while Mali are attempting to return to the final for the first time since their tournament debut in 1972. In fact, the Malian Eagles have the strangest Nations Cup record in my opinion - only seven appearances at the competition and yet they have reached the semi-finals FIVE times. If they are that good, then why on earth have they missed so many tournaments? Very strange - any bright ideas, plse text in on +44 77 86 20 20 08.

1848: Well, one man who is inside the stadium is ... none other than ... Brazilian legend Pele. The man who won three World Cup finals is talking to Ivory Coast captain Didier Drogba in the arena, shaking his hands, and the crowd, according to the BBC's Farayi Mungazi inside, has gone wild at the sight of the all-time great.

1844: Inside the Stade de l'Amitie, in the Gabonese capital Libreville, the BBC's John Bennett says that Mali's fans have been singing and dancing for some three hours. There's also expected to be a huge contingent of Elephants fans as well - some 7,000 if tournament organisers have got their sums right. The organisers have also been giving out free tickets today to fans, so fingers crossed that the Libreville arena will be full - in contrast to the Bata stadium, which had many empty seats for today's earlier game.

1840: So the reaction to those teams. Mali coach Alain Giresse has made two changes, replacing injured duo Modibo Maiga (who will be a big miss) and Abdou Traore with Mustapha Yatabare and Tidiane Cheick Diabate, who scored that all-important late equaliser against Gabon in Sunday's quarter-final.

Ivory Coast coach Francois Zahoui has gone one further - making three changes to his line-up. Out go Max Gradel, Arthur Boka and Kafoumba Coulibaly - to be replaced by the fully fit again Salomon Kalou, Cheik Tiote and Siaka Tiene.

1837: Tonight's line-ups to see who will join Zambia's in Sunday's Africa Cup of Nations final.

Mali: 16-Soumaila Diakite; 14-Drissa Diakite, 5-Cedric Kante (c), 4-Ousmane Berthe, 3-Adama Tamboura; 15-Bakaye Traore, 18-Samba Sow, 20-Samba Diakite, 12-Seydou Keita; 6-Mustapha Yatabare, 9-Cheick Tidiane Diabate

Ivory Coast: 1-Boubacar Barry; 17-Siaka Tiene, 4-Kolo Toure, 22-Souleyman Bamba, 5-Didier Zokora; 9-Cheik Tiote, 6-Jean-Jacques Gosso Gosso, 19-Yaya Toure, 10-Gervinho; 8-Salomon Kalou 11-Didier Drogba (c)

1836: Good evening all - and can tonight's game follow that drama? And are in for another upset?

By Stephen Fottrell

1833: On that poignant note, we look to the second of today's semi-finals, which has something of an act to follow in that result alone. Ghana must now contest the third-place play-off, while Zambia prepare to take on either Mali or Ivory Coast in the final. The two West African sides meet at 1900 in Libreville. To take you through that one, here's Piers Edwards.

1829: Brendan in Lusaka also sees the Zambians' appearance in Sunday's final as destiny, as he texts: "Chipolopolo are true heroes, the return to Gabon was destined to happen."

1825: Zambia on the other hand will look to end their own long quest for a Nations Cup title on Sunday at the third time of asking. It is also likely to be an emotional day for the Zambians, as they return to a country off whose coast 18 Chipolopolo players died in a 1993 plane crash. Zambia captain Christopher Katongo told the BBC before the tournament: "As we go to Gabon, every heart will pump so fast when we remember what happened in 1993. The souls are still there and we have to do something about what happened to that team which perished in Gabon."

1820: Spare a thought for Ghana, who will have to wait a little longer to win what is proving to be an elusive title since their last triumph in 1982. The Black Stars never quite hit their full stride in the tournament though, it must be said, although they were unbeaten before today. Still, a lesson for all teams from the Ghanaians today - take your chances, or there's every chance you will end upon the losing side.

1817: Ayuba Sheriff in Liberia texts:"I consider Christopher Katongo as captain of the tournament." He could well be Ayuba, if he manages to lead this Zambian team to the title. What is certain at this stage, though, is that Zambia will meet the winner of Mali v Ivory Coast on Sunday in Libreville. That game is coming your way shortly right here by the way, after we give you some more of the reaction from Bata.

1812: And this from Mwamba Chishimba in the Zambian capital Lusaka: "Incredible scenes on the streets of Lusaka as people of all tribes and race come out to celebrate this immense victory! Well done Chipolopolo!" I think that one sums up just how big this win is for the Zambians.

1810: More of your reaction, which is flooding in after that massive semi-final result for Zambia. Namasiku, the Zambian Scot in Bahrain texts: "I never heard Zambia being mentioned as a contender for this title. I heard Senegal, Ghana, and Ivory Coast. Well, two down and one to go!"

1807: As Yeboah says, the Zambians may well have been destined for this one, as they will now make what's likely to be an emotional return to Gabon - off whose coast 18 Chipolopolo players died in a 1993 plane crash - for the final in Libreville.

1804: Yeboah a Ghanaian, in Finland, is gracious in defeat, however, as he texts: "Heart-break for Ghana! Probably Zambia were destined for it this time round and I wish them well in the final."

1802:Harry, in Espoo, Finland texts: "This is it. History has been made. Congratulations Chipolopolo!"

1800: And an anonymous Zambian texter tells us: "The mobile networks are choked! Absolutely fantastic from Zambia!"

1758: Zambian striker Jacob Mulenga, who missed the tournament through injury, just told the BBC World Service: "I told everybody we would do it, but nobody listens to me."

1756: SubstituteEmmanuel Mayuka's wonderful curler gave Zambia the victory, after Ghana missed a string of chances, including Asamoah Gyan's penalty, which was saved by the immense Kennedy Mweene in the Zambian goal, in what proved to be one of those days for the Black Stars and a famous semi-final victory for the Zambians.

1753: The delighted Chipolopolo men have, repeat, just done their own version of the Haka, as they celebrate qualifying for their third Nations Cup final at expense of the highly-fancied Ghana.

1752: Incredible scenes of celebration from the Zambian players as they knock the pre-tournament favourites out, while it's heads in hands all round and incredulous faces from the Black Stars players. And the Zambians have just done the Haka!! That's a first in African football surely!

1750: FULL-TIME: Zambia 1-0 Ghana

1750: The Black Stars do get it forward again, but it's with Mweene once more. The Zambia stopper has been immense today.

1749: Zambia get a free-kick to clear their lines, and this could well be it unless Ghana can get it forward once more.

1748: Ghana desperately deliver into the box again, as Zambia clear once more. Renard is screaming at his players to hang in there.

1747: And the delivery ping-pongs around the box but Zambia clear once more. Ghana have four minutes of added time to save their campaign.

1745: Zambia's Himoonde with a crucial tackle on Samuel Inkoom on the six-yard line, and it's another corner for Ghana.

1743: Two corners from Kwadwo Asamoah, though, come to nought. Time running out for Ghana, as Zambia look to hang on.

1742: A limping Dede Ayew makes way for Sulley Muntari, as Ghana press for the equaliser, facing the prospect of going out in Bata.

1740: They will have to do it without Derek Boateng, though, who picks up a second yellow and a red card for a foul on Isaac Chansa. Ghana down to ten men and chasing an equaliser with five minutes to go.

1739: Ghana are under all the pressure now as their star-studded side have to press for an equaliser against the Zambians, who have just the one European-based player.

1737: Mweene then keeps his side ahead as he steals the ball off the head of Dede Ayew. Zambia then break quickly with Kalaba firing straight at Kwarasey. End-to-end stuff once again.

1736: What. A. Strike. Zambia make Ghana pay for all their missed opportunities, with substituteEmmanuel Mayuka curling in with his right peg beautifully off the post.

1734: GOAL! Zambia 1-0 Ghana (Mayuka)

1733: Dede Ayew looking very uncomfortable again after going down painfully, it looked like, on his knee. The Black Stars playmaker continues for now though.

1732: Just as I say that, Gyan is withdrawn, and hands the armband to Anthony Annan, before being replaced by Prince Tagoe, as Goran Stevanovic tries to shake it up at the front. Gyan disappointed to be withdrawn, but he again looked a yard or two short today, after struggling for full fitness in the run-up to the tournament.

1730: Asamoah Gyan takes up the armband for Ghana. Will it help to break the deadlock? Mweene, who has been the man of the match for Zambia so far in their goal, will hope to have more to say about that.

1728: Is it going to be one of those days for Ghana? It is for their captain John Mensah, who can't quite keep the motor running in the last couple of games, as he struggles to shake off a knock. He comes off to be replaced by the big Hoffenheim defender Isaac Vorsah.

1726: Mweene foils Gyan once more, with Inkoom swinging one in for the former Sunderland man to challenge with his head again, but the Zambian keeper pressures him into heading wide. Isaac Chansa then goes in the book for Zambia.

1724: Another substitution for Zambia, with Francis Kasonde replaced by Chisamba Lungu. Zambia's Sunzu then heads wide from Kalaba's cross.

1722: Gyan bursts into the box past four Zambian defenders but the Al Ain man takes it a little too far and shoots straight at Mweene.

1720: Another in-swinger from Dede, finds Gyan's head in the box, but comes off Mweene's glove and over. Zambia get away with a goal-kick though. Derek Boateng then goes into the book for a foul on Chris Katongo. Boateng has made a real impact on this game, but he'll have to be careful now.

1717: Dede Ayew trying to get a couple of attacks going for Ghana once more, but sees brother Jordan sky his effort, as Dede limps a little after that last run.

1715: Herve Renard screams at his players once more. One attack is not enough for the French coach of the Zambian side. He clearly wants more, from that roar. Clearly. Loud and clearly.

1713: Zambia determined to change that though, with Mayuka looking to make an immediate impact, breaking down the right and trying to find Katongo in the box, but Boye cuts it out.

1711: Zambia inside the Ghana half for the first time in this period but Derek Boateng snuffs it out well. The pace has calmed a bit, but it's been mainly one-way traffic again.

1709: Jordan Ayew is on the march again and is taken down on the corner of the area by Sunzu, who receives a yellow card. The free-kick is delivered in at pace and bounces in the box, before Boye heads over.

1706: Jordan Ayew has Ghana's first chance of the second period with a right foot effort at Mweene's near post, but the Zambian keeper is down well again and gathers on the greasy surface.

1704: And Ghana are straight into the Zambian final third, but the Chipolopolo, determinedly clear their lines with Herve Renard's half-time talk ringing in their ears, no doubt.

1701: Zambia make a change at the break with Emmanuel Mayuka coming on for James Chamanga, and we're underway again, courtesy of the Black Stars.

1659: Patrick in the UK, meanwhile,texts:"Disappointed with the low turn up. Anyway gameplan is really simple. Ghana for posession, Zambia for victory!" Many thanks for all those half-time texts. Keep them coming on: +44 77 86 20 20 08.

1658: Sammie from Juba, South Sudan, texts: "I am confident that the Black Stars will win by two goals today."

1657:Yeboah, a Ghanaian, in Finland begs to differ, however. He texts: "This match is a repeat of the 1992 Ghana-Zambia group match, which Ghana won by a goal and history will repeat itself."

1654: We do have a prediction in though, via text, and it's one that goes against the run of play so far, from Dabara from Yobe State, Nigeria. "This match is going to end up Zambia 2-1 Ghana. It will all happen in the second-half."

1650: A non-stop all-action half in the first semi-final of the day, and it's somehow 0-0 at the break. Zambia started the game well, but it was mainly all Ghana from there, with the BLack Stars missing a penalty through Asamoah Gyan, who shot limply to Kennedy Mweene's left, allowing the Zambian keeper to palm it away to safety. Ghana then broke into the box on numerous occasions, but were unable to convert any of their chances, and it's all square in Bata still. More end-to-end action to come in the second period though, no doubt.

1646: HALF-TIME: Zambia 0-0 Ghana

1645: Ghana continue to press and Inkoom turns provider this time, with a cross for Asamoah Gyan, who can't get any purchase on the header. Sunzu provides a breather once more as he takes a knock and receives treatment, with a minute of added time at the end of the half.

1643: Pretty slippy conditions in Bata now, but the players are coping well with it and Ghana are off once again, with Asamoah feeding Inkoom on the right, who blasts over.

1641: Some meaty challenges going in on either side, before Kwadwo Asamoah breaks to the edge of the Zambian box with some skill and fires towards Mweene's right, which takes a defelection off Hichani Himoonde, who concedes the corner but sees it cleared by his defensive colleagues.

1638: Still 0-0, and still raining, but time for that breath as Stoppila Sunzu loses a boot.

1636: Two quick corners for Ghana at the other end, with the second whipped in by Dede Ayew, with Boye rising but unable to connect.

1634: The Zambians then have their best chance of the game, with Rainford Kalaba twisting and turning through the Ghana defence and laying it on a plate for Chris Katongo, who fires wide. Looked in from this angle initially, but slipped wide.

1633: Oh dear. Brotherly love tested there as Dede Ayew delivers a wonderful cross for his brother Jordan, who totally misses it at the far post.

1631: Taken a breath yet? Nope, neither have I. But this is what we've got used to in this tournament! Ghana playing some of their brightest football of the tournament here, but they're meeting a determined Zambian defence, who are also doing their best to get any counter-attacks going - to not much avail at the moment.

1629: Zambia get the ball back into the Ghana half for their first meaningful attack for a while, though, with Isaac Chansa crossing for James Chamanga, which is well snuffed out by the Black Stars defence. Ghana counter immediately with Gyan and Ayew both canoning their efforts off Zambian defenders.

1626: Ghana are turning the screw on Zambia and you have to feel at this rate it's only a matter of time for the men in white. Kwadwo Asamoah, with the latest effort, which is charged down well by the Zambian defence.

1624: Zambia boss Herve Renard, in his soaked lucky white shirt, implores his players to get back into this game, but just as he does Dede Ayew bursts into the box and feeds Gyan, who scuffs his shot, which Mweene gathers.

1622: Zambia back into the Ghana half though now with Rainford Kalaba getting the Chipolopolo going again, feeding Isaac Chansa who fires at Kwarasey in the Ghana goal from distance.

1620: All Ghana now, so much so that there's been no time whatsoever to dwell on that penalty miss from Gyan. We shall come back to it though.

1618: Kwadwo Asamoah then ventures into the Ghana box before running it out of play, before Mweene almost gets himself in all sorts of trouble allowing Gyan to close him down in his own area, but clears - just about.

1616: Good build-up play from Ghana, with Jordan Ayew taken down on the edge of the area for a free-kick which comes to nought. John Boye then, just fouled himself, gets himself into the referee's book with a foul on Isaac Chansa. Boye is also now out of the final, as that's his second yellow of the finals.

1612: Zambia's Francis Kasonde is booked for a foul on Ghana's John Boye. No shortage of incident so far, with shots at each end, a missed penalty from Gyan, and now a booking. I have a feeling we could be in for that kind of a game here throughout.

1610: Breathless start in Bata. And Ghana on the attack once more, with Gyan shooting from distance, and Mweene palming away once more.

1608: Penalty saved by Kennedy Mweene in the Zambia goal from Asamoah Gyan's poor effort to the Zambian goalkeeper's left, who got down and palmed away well.

1607: Penalty for Ghana!

1605: The Chipolopolo are taking this game straight to Ghana from the off and the Black Stars are already trying to take the zip out of the Zambians' energetic start, but concede another corner, which is taken by Rainford Kalaba. Ghana then clear their lines once again, and will try and calm proceedings a bit from here.

1602: A lively start, with Zambia's Isaac Chansa firing one over from distance, but earning a corner on its way, which is whipped in for James Chamanga, but it's cleared by Asamoah Gyan.

1600: And we're underway, Zambia kicking us off from left to right bang on time.

1559: Hmm, just as I said that about it being dry, it starts to pour. Hopefully it will be nothing of the kind of deluge we witnessed in that Zambia-Libya mud-fest.

1558: Ghana's Black Stars line-up in their traditional white kit, with Zambia in their orange and green strip.

1556: And out come the teams to a Bata stadium with rows and rows of empty seats, it must be said. Disappointing turnout once more, but on we go. At least it's dry, which will be a relief to those of you who were with us for the group game between the Zambians and Libya in same ground that was played on a rain-sodden surface.

1553: They take on a Ghana side, meanwhile, bidding to reach a record ninth final, and second in succession. Despite that pedigree, though, the Black Stars are hungry for this trophy, as they attempt to bring a 30-year wait for a continental title to an end.

1550: The Chipolopolo are also bidding to become the first southern African side to progress to a Nations Cup final since 1998. They also have a further and very poignant reason for wanting to reach the final in Gabon, off whose coast 18 Chipolopolo players died in a 1993 plane crash.

1546: The Zambians enter this showdown in the Equatoguinean city of Bata trying to reach their first Africa Cup of Nations final since 1994 - and what would be the third in their history. The Chipolopolo have never won the competition, having also finished runners-up in 1974.

1543: Zambia coach Herve Renard makes two changes. Francis Kasonde and James Chamanga come in to the side, while Chisamba Lungu and Emmanuel Mayuka are relegated to the bench. Renard had fielded an unchanged line-up in his previous two games, but has added a bit of variety to his line-up this time. Renard had a full squad to choose from, with the exception of Clifford Mulenga, who was sent home for indiscipline last week.

1540: Let's digest those line-ups for you then. Ghana coach Goran Stevanovic makes three changes to the team he fielded in Sunday's quarter-final against Tunisia. Derek Boateng comes in for injured Emmanuel Agyemang Badu. Defender Lee Addy replaces Alhassan Masahudu, while Jordan Ayew gets the nod ahead of Sulley Muntari. Captain John Mensah has won his battle for fitness and starts for the Black Stars.

1535: We'll bring you all of the action from Libreville later, but for now let's concentrate on Zambia and Ghana in Bata, which kicks off at 1600 GMT. And the team line-ups are in:

Zambia line-up: 16-Kennedy Mweene, 02-Francis Kasonde 4-Joseph Musonda, 5-Hichani Himoonde, 6-Davies Nkausu, 8-Isaac Chansa, 11-Chris Katongo (c), 13-Stoppila Sunzu, 27-Rainford Kalaba, 19-Nathan Sinkala, 12-James Chamanga.

Ghana line-up: 16- Adam Kwarasey, 07- Samuel Inkoom 17-Lee Addy, 05 - John Mensah, 21- John Boye 20- Kwadwo Asamoah, 06-Anthony Annan, 09- Derek Boateng, 03- Asamoah Gyan, 10- Andre 'Dede' Ayew, 13- Jordan Ayew.

1530 GMT: Good evening. So, in the blink of an eye, here we are, at the semi-final stage of a what has turned out to be a riveting Africa Cup of Nations tournament so far. Drama, goals, excitement, the lot. And after all that, we've ended up with a very appetising line-up indeed for the last four. For the first time in a decade there is no North African representation in the semis. Instead, we have West African neighbours Mali and Ivory Coast, who face off in Libreville at 1900 GMT. The winner of that one will stay in the Gabonese capital for Sunday's final, and will play the winner of today's first clash in Bata - Zambia and Ghana.



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Zambia 1-0 Ghana
08 Feb 12 |  Football


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