Zambia's coach Herve Renard says his team has no reason to fear Ivory Coast and they can win the African Cup of Nations final if they play well on the day.
Ivory Coast may be a team stacked with big name players but Zambia have no reason to fear them, their coach Herve Renard said on the eve of the African Cup of Nations final in Gabon.
LIBREVILLE,GABON (FEBRUARY 11, 2012) (REUTERS) -
English Premier League stars Didier Drogba and Solomon Kalou will lead Ivory Coast when they try to shake off the tag of being great underachievers in international competitions.
Contrastingly, Zambia have no name players but have displayed some impressive performances on the way to the tournament decider.
''We are not more affraid of Ivory Coast than Ghana or Senegal, we know our value," Renard told reporters on Saturday (February 11).
"I say it again as I have always said; we are not the best, we don't have the same characteristics. We don't have players playing in big clubs with a high level experience.
"But the Africa Cup must be put back in its context. It is a three week long competition and you've got to be ready on the day."
Zambia's path to reaching this moment has been a long one after the 1993 tragedy where the country's football team was killed in a plane crash as they were travelling for a World Cup qualification match in Senegal.
The feat of reaching the final has not been lost of Ivory Coast who expect a torrid battle in the decider.
"We have a lot of respect for the Zambia team for what they did after the misfortune that happened to them," Ivory Coast coach Francois Zahoui told reporters on Friday (February 10).
"I think they will bring a positive energy. I think they know they have inside them a strength coming from somewhere and that they are not playing this final by accident.
"It is a team that managed to go through drama and we have a lot of respect fot that too but we also know that we have all Ivorians praying for us."
Victory for Ivory Coast would go some way to redemption for a team who has struggled in the big competitions despite an abundance of star players.
Kalou believes the change in fortune was down to one thing.
"'I think this year with the coach we are working on team spirit and we work together," he said.
"We can see in every game we've played even the strikers have come down to defend and help the defenders. I think that is the spirit that we are looking for.
"We want to win together and it doesn't matter who scores, the most important thing is to go home with the trophy.''