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Zambia: Renard Picks Afcon Squad

The Times of Zambia (Ndola)

10 January 2012

ZAMBIA coach, Herve Renard has left out striker Given Singuluma and midfielders, Justin Zulu and Thomas Nyirenda from his final 23-man squad to compete at this month’s Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) soccer finals.

Renard, who unveiled his AFCON travelling party last night at the team’s South African training base, retained faith in China-based striker, James Chamanga, who managed to shrug off an ankle injury last week and teenage striker, Evans Kangwa.

Apart from Kangwa, Sudan-based winger, Jonas Sakuwaha will also be making a maiden appearance at the AFCON finals.

Singuluma of DR Congo side, TP Mazembe and Zulu of Israeli side Hapoel LeZion, who arrived at the squad’s training base in South Africa last Wednesday, joined Nyirenda, still struggling with a knee injury, on the AFCON sidelines.

Frenchman named his final 23-final squad for the 28th edition of the AFCON after having dinner with the players at the team’s Milpark Garden Court Hotel camp.

Earlier yesterday, anxiety was high in the Zambian camp at their training base after Renard decided to delay announcing his final 23-man Chipolopolo squad for the AFCON finals.

Renard, who was expected to unveil his AFCON ‘troops’ earlier in the day, took all his charges for routine training sessions in the morning and afternoon at Sturrock Park at the Wits University in Johannesburg – the training base for Holland during the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals.

FAZ vice-president, Boniface Mwamelo said Renard wanted to have a final assessment of the 26 players in camp before picking the team for the continental soccer extravangaza to be co-hosted by Equatorial Guinea and Gabon from next weekend.

Mwamelo, however, assured the nation that the squad picked for the 2012 AFCON finals last night, would be equal to the task.

He said in an interview in Lusaka yesterday that FAZ was confident the team would represent Zambia well at the event kicking off next Saturday.

Mwamelo said the players in camp were aware of the nation’s expectations and would do everything possible to meet Zambians’ aspirations.

He appealed to all Zambians to rally behind the Chipolopolo as they embark on a tough mission in search of the coveted trophy, which had eluded the nation since joining African soccer family in 1964.

“Whatever squad to be picked will be equal to the task. We are confident that the squad will represent Zambia well at the Nations Cup. The players are aware of the nation’s expectations and they will aim to meet those expectations. We ask the nation to support the squad,” Mwamelo said.

The Frenchman had initially announced a 28-man provisional squad but injury knocked out midfielder, William Njobvu while striker, Roger Kola ruled himself out by failing to beat the deadline set for him to be in camp.

Zambia will also be without two other key players in Dutch-based forward Jacob Mulenga, who pulled out through injury while defender Emmanuel Mbola is still serving a FIFA ban.

Renard is expected to submit his final list to the Confederation of African Football (CAF) today.

The Chipolopolo’s preparedness for the 2012 AFCON finals will go on test tomorrow when they face South Africa in a practice match at Rand Stadium in Johannesburg.

Zambia will next have another preparatory match against Namibia on Saturday to fine-tune for the tournament.

The Chipolopolo, scheduled to leave for their AFCON base in Bata on January 17, are in Group A where they will open the account against Senegal on January 21 before tackling Libya and co-hosts, Equatorial Guinea.

Zambia final squad:

Goalkeepers: Kalililo Kakonje, Joshua Titima, Kennedy Mweene.

Defenders: Nyambe Mulenga, Hichani Himonde, Francis Kasonde, Stopilla Sunzu, Kampamba Chintu, Davies Nkausu, Joseph Musonda.

Midfielders: Felix Katongo, Rainford Kalaba, Nathan Sinkala, Chisamba Lungu, Chris Katongo, Clifford Mulenga, Isaac Chansa, Noah Chivuta, Jonas Sakuwaha.

Strikers: Evans Kangwa, Emmanuel Mayuka, Collins Mbesuma, James Chamanga.

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