22 November 2012

Zambia: Jacob Continues With Impressive Form

CHIPOLOPOLO coach Herve Renard has expressed happiness with FC Utrecht striker Jacob Mulenga who has hit top form and has continued netting goals in the Dutch Eredivise.

And Renard has said he is not bothered with Zambia's Group C opponent's preparations saying his focus was to ensure that Chipolopolo are well prepared to defend the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) title in South Africa next year.

Jacob, who made his Chipolopolo return during the Mandela Challenge against Bafana Bafana on November 14 in South Africa, has scored four goals for Utrecht since coming from a lengthy injury that saw him missing the 2012 AFCON finals in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon early this year.

At the weekend, Mulenga scored in Utrecht's 1-all draw against FC Twente to take his goal tally to five, with Renard saying 'We are very pleased for Jacob'.

On preparations for the AFCON finals, Renard said he would rather concentrate on shaping his squad than commenting on what other coaches were doing.

Renard said this in response to what he thought of Nigerian coach Stephen Keshi's comments that his Nations Cup squad was around 75 per cent complete, with two months to go before the tournament gets underway on January 19.

And also what he thought of the Nigerian government dangling of $90, 000 (about K500 million) to the Super Eagles should they win the AFCON trophy.

"I am not going to talk about other coaches. Everyone will do his best to prepare his team well and my job is to ensure the team goes to South Africa and defend the cup," Renard said.

The Nigeria coach has embarked on a gradual reformation of the Super Eagles after the team failed to qualify for the 2012 edition under Samson Siasia.

With a testing friendly over Venezuela successfully negotiated this month, Keshi says his team was close to completion.

"We are still building, but I would say we are about seventy five per cent complete. We know about 75 to 80 percent of the players that will make it. Most watchers have pointed to the defence as the major area requiring work in the build-up to the continental showpiece," said the former defender adding; "the door remains open in all areas."

The remaining twenty-five per cent includes the entire team.

We have an almost settled squad now, but if we see a very good player in any position, we'll give him the chance to show that he deserves a place in the squad," Keshi told Kick Off Nigeria.com on Tuesday.

Nigeria go into the tournament as one of the favourites, but Keshi says expectations should be tempered.

"We are still building. Usually, we would have had two years to build, play qualifiers and prepare for 2014, but the changes to the Nations Cup means we have no time, so we just ask that Nigerians be patient and give this team time to develop," Kehsi said.

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