22 January 2013

Zambia/Ethiopia: 'We Deserve What We Got,' Says Zambia Coach

Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix
After a number of thwarted chances at goal, Ethiopian striker Saladin Said supplied the ball which enabled Adane Girma to score Ethiopia's first goal at the Cup of Nations in 30 years.

Zambian coach Herve Renard could barely contain his annoyance with his side following their 1-1 draw with Ethiopia on Monday.

In a thrilling match that had everything except a winner, Renard felt the defending Africa Cup of Nations champions should have closed out the game when they were leading in the second half with their opponents a man down.

The Frenchman can be tetchy at the best of times, but was clearly annoyed that his experienced side could not wrap up a win against an Ethiopian team that is playing in their first finals for 31 years.

Ten of the 11 players who started for Zambia on Monday played in the last Nations Cup finals when they beat Cote d’Ivoire to lift the crown in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon 12 months ago.

But at times they looked naïve in the way they approached the game, giving away a soft penalty and allowing the Ethiopians too much space to play, and this clearly angered Renard.

The penalty was saved by Kennedy Mweene, another piece of luck for Chipolopolo on the day.

"It’s not a surprise to me, they [Ethiopia] are able to play very good football," Renard said.

"I think today we have to thank our goalkeeper because without Kennedy it would have been a very, very bad result. I think today we deserved what we got."

Zambia had chances to kill the game when it was 1-0, but as has been the case for a few months now, failed to convert those chances.

"Today we should have scored a second one. The solution in football is to score one goal more than our opponents. Again I repeat we deserve what we got," Renard added.

Ethiopia will be overjoyed with their point, but in the cold light of day might look back and wonder how they did not take all three.

Striker Saladin Said missed a spot kick and came close to scoring on two other occasions. His general play was excellent though and it is clear he is the danger man in this otherwise workmanlike side.

What this result, and the 1-1 draw between Nigeria and Burkina Faso, does is open up a group that many felt would be a closed ticket for the quarter-finals with the Zambians and Nigerians easily passing through.

But as the Nations Cup finals have proved over and again in the opening round of fixtures, there are no easy matches at this level.

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