23 January 2013

Zambia: We Need to Improve - Katongo

ZAMBIA skipper Christopher Katongo has said the defending champions need to improve and work harder in their remaining Group C matches at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) following Monday's 1-1 draw against Ethiopia.

In a post match briefing in Nelspruit, South Africa, Katongo conceded that the Chipolopolo needed to improve and work harder in the remaining group matches.

He said it was a fair result for Ethiopia, the draw was bad for the champions.

"We are not under any pressure. But we acknowledge that after today's (Monday) game, we need to improve and work harder and that for sure is what we will do. It is fair that Ethiopia got a draw from this match, they deserved it but as defending champions it is not a fair result to get," Katongo said.

Coach Herve Renard said the Chipolopolo now needed to restart the campaign in the remaining AFCO Group C matches against Nigeria on Friday and Burkina Faso on Tuesday next week.

"We have to restart the stop watch in the remaining two games. For us, the draw looks like a loss. We should have beaten Ethiopia but we underrated them," Renard said according to Back Page TXT.

After watching the AFCON champions only grinding out a 1-1 draw against a 10-man Ethiopian side on Monday at Mbombela Stadium, Renard conceded that his charges failed to follow his caution about the clear and present danger posed by the Walya Antelopes.

Zambia, who blew away a first half lead courtesy of Collins Mbesuma's sublime finish to let Adane Girma equalise later, will now have to beat arch rivals, Nigeria on Friday to brighten chances of qualifying to the quarter-finals.

In a post-match Press briefing in Nelspruit, South Africa, Renard said the draw with Ethiopia was like a loss for Zambia because the Chipolopolo could have easily won the match if they did not underrate their opponents.

Renard was also full of praise for goalkeeper, Kennedy Mweene for saving Zambia the blushes when he shut out man-of-the-match Saladin Said's penalty shot.

"I think today (Monday) we have to thank our goalkeeper because without Kennedy it would have been a very, very bad result. I think we deserve what we got," he said during the briefing.

Meanwhile, Ethiopian coach, Sewnet Bishaw, whose team returned to the AFCON for the first time since 1982, said he was happy with the performance of the Walya Antelopes, who withstood the challenge of the defending champions.

"It's fantastic for our football because our players have shown the world that they can play football. Football needs experience and we have been together for a long time. A team needs to play lots of international matches. We were able to challenge the defending champions, and as you know Zambia are a very strong team," Bishaw said.

Girma, the captain for Ethiopia, said the support from their fans gave them the confidence to work hard despite being a man down following the dismissal of goalkeeper, Jemal Tassew.

And Nigeria coach, Stephen Keshi, whose charges also drew 1-1 with Burkina Faso on Monday, promised that the Super Eagles would work harder against Zambia and win.

Keshi, however, said his concern now was the fitness of striker Victor Moses, who missed the Burkina Faso tie with an injury.

Nigeria skipper, Joseph Yobo said the match against Zambia would be like a cup final because the Super Eagles, who missed the 2012 AFCON, wanted to qualify to the next stage of the AFCON.

Zambia will wind up the group phase with another potential tough match against Burkina Faso on January 29.

All teams in Group C have a point apiece, leaving the battle for last eight places open.

Copyright © 2013 The Times of Zambia. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.