CHIPOLOPOLO coach Herve Renard has said Zambia's qualification to the 2014 World Cup finals heavily depends on how the team will treat the away qualifier against Lesotho next month.
Renard said the tie in Maseru was as important to Zambia's quest as the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) group opener against Ethiopia last month.
He said the result from the Lesotho game would decide whether or not Zambia could make the World Cup play-off.
Renard said Zambia just had to beat Lesotho away on March 23 and also win return leg which comes straight afterwards on June 7 in Ndola at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium.
"We are out of Africa Cup and have to plan properly for the World Cup, we have four important games but it's the away game against Lesotho that is more important and will determine our World Cup dream. At the Africa cup, we messed up by failing to beat Ethiopia.
"The situation is the same here, we have the Lesotho game right in front of us and if we want to go to the World Cup, we just have to win it, we mess up again, we may not qualify," he said.
Zambia leads Group C with six points from two matches, while Lesotho are at the base with one point with the two sides meeting each other in quick succession after which the Chipolopolo hosts Sudan and then make the trip to bitter rivals Ghana in September.
Renard said Zambia had experienced the devastating effects of not putting a game to bed they were expected to win and that having learnt it the hard way, he expects his players to stand up to the challenge and deliver what is expected of them against Lesotho.
In the 2014 World Cup qualifiers, Africa has been split into 10 groups with the 10 group winners to be paired in two's for the play-offs and the winners of the five home-and-away-basis games going to Brazil for the World's biggest sporting spectacle.
Ghana are hot on Zambia's heels for a place in the play-off lying three points off the pace having lost to Zambia via a Christopher Katongo goal. Zambia won an appeal over Sudan who used an ineligible player thus gifting the Chipolopolo three points to lead the chart.