Senegal v Zambia preview
Coach Herve Renard is in confident mood ahead of Zambia's AFCON opener with continental heavyweights Senegal on Saturday.
Last Updated: 21/01/12 12:59pm
Coach Herve Renard is in confident mood ahead of Zambia's AFCON opener with continental heavyweights Senegal on Saturday night.
The Frenchman steered Chipolopolo to the quarter-finals of the event two years ago, and he believes they can go all the way this time round.
"My dream is to win the Cup of Nations in Libreville because a great part of Zambian football history was written there," he said referring to a 1993 plane crash off Gabon that killed 18 players en route to a World Cup qualifier.
"Imagine if we could lift the trophy. It would be a fantastic way to honour the memories of those who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving the land they loved.
"Although my team are not among the favourites, we can win this cup. All we need is hard work and commitment."
The Group A rivals will collide at the 35,000-seat Estadio de Bata, in Equatorial Guinea, with the tournament being jointly staged in Gabon.
Notably, Renard is minus star striker Jacob Mulenga, who misses the showpiece through injury. Worryingly, defender Stopilla Sunzu scored the only goal in a recent 1-1 draw with a weakened South Africa, while Zambia were unable to breach Namibia in another fine-tuning exercise.
The Teranga Lions, meanwhile, boast an intimidating frontline featuring the likes of Demba Ba, Moussa Sow, Papiss Demba Cisse, Mamadou Niang and Dame N'Doye.
Ba is Newcastle's top scorer this season; Lille's Sow made the top five of the 2011 African Footballer of the Year poll; Qatar-based Niang netted a hat-trick against the DRC in qualifying, while N'Doye scored 25 goals in 31 matches for Danish champions FC Copenhagen.
Ba and Cisse were on target in recent 1-0 warm-up victories over Sudan and Kenya.