Sunday, January 20, 2013

Zambia V Ethiopia Preview (BBC)

    Venue: Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
    Date: Monday, 21 January
    Kick-off: 15:00 GMT

Coverage: Live text commentary on the BBC Sport website, TV coverage on Eurosport and ITV

Zambia head coach Herve Renard has a full strength squad to choose from as they look to become the fourth country to retain the Africa Cup of Nations.

The Chipolopolo have selected 19 of the players that triumphed in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea last year.

Monday's opponents Ethiopia are competing in the tournament for the first time since 1982.

Head coach Sewnet Bishaw is believed to have no fresh injury worries in a squad dominated by domestic-based players.

Although Zambia lost three of their four pre-tournament matches, Renard is able to call on reigning BBC African Football of the Year Christopher Katongo, Reading-bound centre-back Stoppila Sunzu and goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene.

FC Utrecht striker Jacob Mulenga is also present after he missed the previous competition through injury.

Their hopes of winning the trophy again have also been boosted by the availability of skilful midfielder Rainford Kalaba, who has recovered from a groin injury.

Zambia will face a striker in Saladin Said who has a knack of scoring spectacular goals. The Walya Antelopes's squad further contains 17 players from Ethiopian champions Saint George and runners-up Dedebit.

Zambia head coach Herve Renard said:

"The first game against Ethiopia is very important - it is crucial that we start the tournament with a win just as we did last year.

"A lot of pundits do not believe we can win the title again and do not want to take risks with their predictions. It is easier to say Zambia will never win the Cup of Nations again.

"Should we fail to retain the trophy, it simply means another team was better than us. However, it will be very difficult to beat this Zambian team."

Ethiopia head coach Sewnet Bishaw said:

"We worked really hard to qualify and people should appreciate that.

"We cleared difficult hurdles in Benin and Sudan and will not make life easy for any opponents. Hard work and unity are our strengths.

"We succeeded because of intense training and a high level of discipline. I just hope we can learn from some of the silly goals we conceded in Khartoum."