29 January 2013

Zambia: Champions Zambia On the Knife-Edge

African champions, Zambia, is on the verge of an early exit from the 2013 competition but must beat Burkina Faso to remain in the contest.

Burkina Faso, on the other end, only need a draw to go through and make the last eight for the first time since 1998 when the competition was held in their home country.

The Zambians are winless since the competition started drawing against Ethiopia and Nigeria 1-all in both games.

Coached by Frenchman Herve Renard, Zambia has struggled to come off the shell but the team is determined to prove critics it still has the capacity to contest the big prize on the continent.

World-class goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene, who has saved one penalty and scored another in these finals, will stand in once more for Zambia and could captain the team if Renard decides to start skipper Christopher Katongo on the bench.

Burkina Faso will hope top scorer Alain Traore continues his excellent form after the player scored three goals in the last two matches.

Traore has scored three goals so far, including two in the handsome 4-0 win against Ethiopia that has put the Burkinabes on the verge of reaching the last eight.

"It's the final group game against Burkina Faso, so we will soon see what happens next.

"We have our chance and destiny in our own hands. I think we are still capable of qualifying to the quarter-finals," a positive Renard declared.

His star goalkeeper said; "we still have hope. We'll work hard in training, we can't give up. We have to fight, we are the champions after all.

"It won't be easy, but we can still qualify for the quarter-finals."

Burkina Faso coach Paul Put, however, is not giving up easily because he believes his side has an opportunity to rise to the occasion.

"Our first aim arriving here was to do better than in previous Nations Cups. We've already achieved that. That has helped free the players' minds, it was good for our confidence," he said.

In the other Group C match, Nigeria face Ethiopia and must win to proceed to the next stage of the competition.

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