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Zambia's Chipolopolo vow to emulate last year's AFCON perfomance

posted 11 Jan 2013, 08:02 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 11 Jan 2013, 08:03 ]

Reigning Africa Cup of Nations champions Zambia have vowed to defend their title by all means at the 2013 championships in South Africa.

 LUSAKAZAMBIA  (REUTERS) -  Reigning Africa Cup of Nations champions Zambia have said they are determined not to suffer an early exit, and defend their title at the upcoming 2013 tournament in South Africa.


Chipolopolo' (Copper Bullets) as the squad is fondly known, defied all odds last year to lift Africa's most prestigious trophy in LibrevilleGabon just a few kilometers from the crash site where the entire 1993 Zambian squad perished on their way to Senegal for a World Cup qualifier.

Captained by hard fighting Christopher Katongo, the Chipolopolo upstaged leading African teams such as SenegalGhana and Ivory Coast brimming with European based players such as Didier DrogbaKolo Toure among others.

Head coach Herve Renard admitted at that time that his side wasn't the best at tournament in Gabon but was equally thrilled by the victory.

However, recently ahead of this year's tournament in South Africa, he said that he was confident with the preparations made and that his team was ready to repeat the feat later this month with flawless performances.

"I think we have to go to South Africa to defend our title with confidence. We are getting six weeks of preparation, it's a long preparation but it's very important, even if not all the players are here with us, we have 60 per cent of our squad, this means we will work very well and we will be ready for the first game in South Africa," he said.

Zambia recently beat South Africa 1-0 to lift the Nelson Mandela Cup in Johannesburg to add on their tally of trophies.

As part of their preparations, Chipolopolo has also played friendly matches with Saudi Arabia and Tanzania.

Veteran defender Hichani Himonde said that their 2012 victory might have inspired other African teams and as a result this could make this year's tournament much tougher, but he was confident his side would win again.

"It's only a year in between and we have maintained the same players. I think it will be difficult, but most of the players have experience with the Africa Cup, so I believe it will be easier and with a few new players we will do our best to encourage everyone so that we are at the same level. But I believe we will do the best and we will retain the cup toZambia." he said.

But despite their recent sterling performances others in Zambia still find faults with the squad.

Soccer journalist Robinson Kunda of the Zambia Daily Mail is concerned about the team's finishing power and warned it could cost the team victory if it is not improved ahead of the tournament in South Africa.

"At the moment, Zambia's strongest position I think is the midfield and defence. If you look at the players that they have in defence, there is stophilla Sunzu and he has been very consistent, and it seems his partnership with Hichani Himonde has been working well and the guys are getting stronger . I would say they are stronger than they were when they won the Africa cup in Gabon," said Kunda.

Zambia's current team doesn't have any European based players, and relies mainly on players based at home and those based in the Democratic Republic of CongoSouth Africa and China .