Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
Zambia and Mali out to surprise
by Paul Kennedy, February 7th, 2012 11:40PM
Subscribe to Soccer America Daily

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: Wayne Shaw    
"I think two more than the four you have there." -- Wayne Shaw, pointing to a ...
What They're Saying: Lauren Holiday    
"I have never quite known suffering like I experienced the last 6 months. I can remember ...
CCL: Gonzalez's Pachuca finally shut out    
Pachuca was held without a goal for the first time in 25 games in the Concacaf ...
Datebook: NWSL will open fifth season on April 15    
The National Women's Soccer League will kick off its fifth season April 15 with four games, ...
MLS Moves: Mullins and D.C. extend their partnership    
Not many midseason trades have turned out so well as did the shift of Patrick Mullins ...
MLS Moves: Loons line up Swiss defender    
Another area of need -- outside back -- has been addressed by Minnesota United FC as ...
Sneak Peek: Cabrera and Cubo reunited in Houston    
No returning MLS team has made more changes than Houston. The Dynamo, last in the Western ...
U.S. U-18 girls beat England, 3-1    
Sophia Smith of Real Colorado scored twice after PacNW SC's Summer Yates opened the scoring in ...
Sneak Peek: FC Dallas preps for tough, early start    
Back-to-back 60-point seasons for FC Dallas, the first MLS team to achieve this feat, didn't return ...
U.S. U-20s rebound with win over Haiti    
After opening its U-20 World Cup qualifying campaign with a 1-0 loss to Panama, the USA ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives