Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America Classifieds
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
Zambia and Mali out to surprise
by Paul Kennedy, February 7th, 2012 11:40PM

MOST READ
TAGS:  african nations cup

MOST COMMENTED

[AFRICA CUP OF NATIONS] Zambia and Mali will be underdogs when they face Ghana and Ivory Coast, respectively, in the semifinals of the Africa Cup of Nations, but both teams, coached by Frenchmen, enter the game full of confidence. The Chipolopolo, Zambia's team of no-names, is seeking its first appearance in the final since 1994, while Mali, led by Barcelona's Seydou Keita, is looking to bring some joy to their strife-ridden nation.

Zambia, which beat Sudan, 3-0, in the quarterfinals, last reached the final in 1994, a year after virtually the entire national team was killed in a plane crash. It has an admirer in Ghana veteran Sulley Muntari.

"It's going to be a very difficult game," he said. "No one expected Zambia to go that far. They are not just lucky to be in the semifinals, they play very good football."

Zambia coach Herve Renard was the Ghana assistant in 2008 when the host Black Stars fell to Cameroon, 1-0, in the semifinals. This time he wants to go to the final.

"It was always our ambition before the start of the tournament to get to the semifinals of this competition," the Frenchman said, "but now we want to go further."

Renard, who sent home star Clifford Mulenga for breaking the curfew, says team chemistry is strong. The coach says his players are underrated because they are not playing in major leagues like the Ghana and Ivory Coast stars.

Indeed, players like Emmanuel Mayuka (Switzerland), Christopher Katongo (China) and Rainford Kalaba (Democratic Republic of Congo) are scattered at clubs around the world. Others play at clubs in Israel, Russia, South Africa and Sudan.

“I have a good base of players who can deliver the result," says Renard. "I told my players we have a few days to go and they have to sacrifice for the country and make all Zambians proud.

Mali, which has finished fourth on three occasions in the last 20 years, benefits from the Keita's experience and a corps of 14 players based in France. And its coach, former French star Alain Giresse, is one of the best coaches working in Africa.

Giresse credits Keita's leadership in helping get the Eagles to the final four with a shootout win over co-host Gabon, Giresse's former team.

"His involvement is the same as with Barcelona," said Giresse. "He is willing to defend and he is here as a leader."

Keita has called for peace in northeastern Mali, where rebels have attacked towns around Timbuktu.

"As a coach," said Giresse, "you have to be very aware of what your players feel, and when Seydou spoke about the problems facing Mali, he was doing this for the whole team. I think he was right in doing what he did, and it would be wonderful if soccer teams could change things, but as they can't, it is right that they call on those who can change.



No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
What They're Saying: Neymar    
"I think Brazilian soccer is behind. It's behind Germany and Spain. We've slipped behind and we ...
Arsenal players practice speaking New Yorkese    
[VIDEO PICK: Off the Post] In preparation for their visit to the U.S. Northeast, where they'll ...
MLS Goals of the Week    
[VIDEO PICK] Well-placed long-distance shots, including Benny Feilhaber's gamewiiner for Kansas City over Columbus, dominate Week ...
Report: Julian Green will join Bayern tour    
[INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLIES] A Bayern Munich spokesperson confirmed to MLSsoccer.com that Julian Green will be in the ...
Soccer America Power Rankings    
[MLS: Week 19] D.C. United and Sporting Kansas City posted wins to stay right behind leader ...
Top scorer Ebobisse wins USSDA honor    
[AWARDS] Jeremy Ebobisse, the leading scorer in the under-17/18 age group with 38 goals in 27 ...
2014 W-League all-conference teams    
[AWARDS] The four W-League semifinalists -- Charlotte Lady Eagles, LA Blues, Ottawa Fury and Washington Spirit ...
Veteran college coach Logan Fleck passes away    
[OBITUARY] Logan Fleck, a longtime men's and women's college head coach who started programs at USF ...
Longtime UMass coach Sam Koch dies    
[OBITUARY] Longtime University of Massachusetts men's coach Sam Koch died on Sunday at his home in ...
D.C. United on course to set record for biggest turnaround     
[MLS: Week 19] D.C. United's 3-1 win over Chivas USA on Sunday moved it back to ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives