AFTER five days of intensive training for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), Zambia coach, Herve Renard has given the African champions a break today to celebrate the new year but without any partying.
And Zambia will play fellow AFCON finalists, Angola on January 5 in Johannesburg in an international friendly match.
The Chipolopolo, who had two intensive sessions yesterday at their Johannesburg camp site, will only rest today before resuming the final phase of AFCON title defence preparations tomorrow.
Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) spokesperson, Erick Mwanza said the Chipolopolo had ended 2012 on high after responding positively to training with great determination, commitment and hard work.
Mwanza said in Lusaka yesterday that Renard and his technical staff had given the players a break to join the rest of the world in welcoming the new year.
He said the Chipolopolo players had brought out what the coaches desired in the first phase of the preparations and deserved a day to re-energise.
Mwanza, however, said it would be an ordinary rest day and that there would be no partying for the Chipolopolo and that the only activity, apart from having their normal meals, would probably be watching a movie.
"There will be nothing like partying or beer drinking. The players will have their normal meals and probably the only activity is to see a movie," the FAZ media and communications manager said.
Mwanza said during the first five days, there were no injury concerns for the Chiplopolo which was a big boost to the team's aspirations of retaining the continental championship.
Midfield genius, Rainford Kalaba, who had suffered an injury at his TP Mazembe club almost three months ago, gave Renard a timely boost yesterday when he resumed full contact training.
The second round of preparations tomorrow will be boosted by the arrival of Portugal-based defender, Emmanuel Mbola, bringing the number of players in camp to 23.
Other Europe domiciled players in FC Utrecht striker, Jacob Mulenga from Holland and English Premiership, Southampton, forward, Emmanuel Mayuka are expected to join the squad on January 6.
Defender, Stoppila Sunzu, whose visa to England to complete his dream move to Reading will be ready on Thursday, is expected to link up with his Chipolopolo colleagues after finishing his club-switching business.
And to ensure the team gets adequate preparations, Mwanza said FAZ was lining up a friendly match against fellow AFCON finalists, Angola on January 5 in Johannesburg.
He said FAZ believed playing Angola, who are also training in South Africa, would greatly benefit the team. Mwanza said FAZ was hoping that the practice match against Swaziland which was scheduled for the same date could be moved to another day.
The Chipolopolo will also face another AFCON finalist, Morocco on January 8 before returning home for a historic friendly against Norway on January 12 in Ndola and three days later take on Namibia in Nelspruit, South Africa.
Zambia will be based in Nelspruit for the Group C matches against Ethiopia, Nigeria and Burkina Faso at 2010 World Cup stadium, Mbombela.
The title holders will open their defence against Ethiopia on January 21 before taking on Nigeria four days later and conlude with Burkina Faso on January 29.