Zambia step up Africa Cup of Nations preparations

By Kennedy GondweBBC Sport, Lusaka
Frenchman Herve Renard
Frenchman Herve Renard has been in charge of Zambia prepaprations

Football Association of Zambia (Faz) is delighted with their preparation for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations with six weeks before the start of the tournament.

Coach Herve Renard has called up 25 home-based players for this month's friendly against Angola before he names his final squad for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations.

The Chipolopolo will play Angola in a friendly on 18 December in Luanda in a pre-tournament match.

Zambia are serious with their preparation for the competition in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea having played three friendlies since qualifying.

The Chipolopolo played two friendlies in India last week and won both matches.

They beat a Goa select side 4-1 before thrashing India 5-0 in friendlies played at the Nehru Stadium in Goa but they suffered a 2-0 defeat against Nigeria in Kano last month.

They played their last two friendlies without their foreign-based players because of club commitments and the Faz is delighted with the preparation so far.

"The game against Angola is a very important one because that's the last match the coach wants to use to select his final 23 players," Faz spokesperson Erick Mwanza told BBC Sport.

"The trip to India was a huge success to us in that it was a continuation of the Nigeria friendly.

"It provided the coach with an opportunity for the coach to assess about eight new players that he has called to the team. The trip certainly brought out new revelations."

Mwanza said Renard now has an indication of how the experienced players would gel with the new players.

Faz is working on arranging friendlies against north or west African opposition before the Africa Cup of Nations starts on 21 January.

"We have lined up matches against Botswana on January 7th and South Africa on January 14th but we also looking north and west for some more friendlies," he said.

Zambia have been drawn in Group A where they will face co-hosts Equatorial Guinea, Senegal and Libya.

Squad for Angola friendly

Goalkeepers: Jacob Banda, Zesco United), Rabson Muchelenganga, (Nchanga Rangers), Kalililo Kakonje, (unattached) Joshua Titima (Power Dynamos),

Defenders: Jimmy Chisenga (Red Arrows), Thomas Nyirenda (Konkola Blades), Stoppilla Sunzu (TP Mazembe, DRC), Francis Kasonde (TP Mazembe, DRC), Hichani Himonde (TP Mazembe, DRC), Nyambe Mulenga (Zesco United), Steven Kabamba (Zesco United), Lawrence Chungu (Power Dynamos)

Midfielders: Chisamba Lungu (FC Ural, Russia), Christopher Katongo (Henan Jienye, China), Kennedy Mudenda (Power Dynamos), Nathan Sinkala (Green Buffaloes), Joseph Sitali (Power Dynamos), Rainford Kalaba (TP Mazembe, DRC)

Strikers: Jonas Sakuwaha (El Merreikh, Sudan), Felix Katongo (Green Buffaloes), Bruce Musakanya (Red Arrows), James Chamanga (Dalian Shide, China), Given Singuluma (TP Mazembe, DRC), Evans Kangwa (Nkana), Ronald Kampamba (Nkana).