: Jan 14, 2013
Chipolopolo of Zambia coach Herve Renard has rated group C Africa Cup of Nations top rival,the Super Eagles of Nigeria as very ordinary adding that the current team being put together by Stephen Keshi do not impress him.
Defending champions Zambia take on Nigeria on January 25 in Nelspruit and Renard has been quick to say he has not been impressed with the Eagles under Keshi after he watched them labour to a 0-0 draw with Cape Verde on Wednesday.
"I think you saw Nigeria the other day against Cape Verde. Do you think it was the best this time?" Renard said.
"I don’t think so."
The two sides are set for an early Africa Cup of Nations showdown in their penultimate Group C match on January 25 at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit.
And Renard reiterated that he was also itching for payback time against the Eagles after the latter ejected them in the 2010 quarterfinals.
"So on January 25 against Nigeria, it will be a different game, it will be a tough game," the Frenchman said.
"But I can assure you we want to finish top of our group like in 2010 and 2012. It’s not easy, but we want go as far as possible because this team has fantastic team spirit."
Meanwhile with less than a week to the start of the African soccer showpiece,Renard has assured the football fraternity that the African champions will not suffer an early exit from the 29th continental edition.
Renard said despite a poor build-up to Africa’s premier football showcase, Zambia would not surrender the AFCON title easily but promised to do the best for the nation.
‘‘This is my fourth AFCON final. We’ll do our best. We are not Ivory Coast neither Ghana. Why do you think we are here? To give up in the first round? ,’’ Renard said in Johannesburg where his team is shaping up for the AFCON title defence.
The Frenchman also said the Chipolopolo, who won the 2012 championship in Gabon, should be judged according to the performance at this year’s AFCON finals and not from preparatory matches.
On winning the opening match against Ethiopia, the African Coach of the Year said it was important for his team to start the title defence on a good note.
"Ethiopia is a good team and we have a lot of respect for them because they have a lot of skilled players. They drew away to South Africa in the 2014 Fifa World Cup qualifiers and they qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations finals tournament after they defeated Sudan."
"Physically we are ready for any team. Tactically and technically we need to find a winning formula. We need to learn how to finish in front of goal and how to finish off the game.
"In 2010 were drew our first match against Tunisia and we went on to finish top of the group. In 2012 we had a good result in our opening match against Senegal and that gave us a lot of confidence and we also finished top of our group."