Zambia's Jacob Mulenga will miss Africa Cup of Nations

By Kennedy GondweBBC Sport, Lusaka
Jacob Mulenga
Jacob Mulenga was a key player in Angola but will miss the 2012 Nations Cup

Zambia will be missing striker Jacob Mulenga for the Africa Cup of Nations next month.

The Netherlands-based striker has been left out of the provisional squad because of injury.

There are also concerns over two other players, Thomas Nyirenda and James Chamanga, who will travel to Equatorial Guinea and Gabon only if they are fit.

Seven new players have been included in the 28-man party, which has to be cut to 23 players before the tournament.

Coach Herve Renard knows the absence of Mulenga, who plays for Utrecht in the Netherlands, is a major blow but takes comfort in the availability of new players.

One such is Emmanuel Mayuka, who was unheard of at the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations finals in Angola, but who has over the last two years grown in stature at both club and national team level.

The 20 year-old represented his Swiss club, Young Boys, in the Uefa Champions league last season and scored two goals for Zambia in the qualifying series for the Nations Cup.

"Jacob's absence will have a very big impact but I hope Mayuka replaces him," Renard said.

The coach willl take the squad to Johannesburg on Monday and says "the real preparations for tournament start now".

"My target hasn't changed. I am ambitious and in my mind I want to do better than what we did last time - we now want to reach the semi-finals," Renard told the BBC.

"Reaching the semi-final is the dream of every Zambian, my dream and all the people that love this team."

Zambia has been drawn in group A with Libya, tournament co-hosts Equatorial Guinea and Senegal.

Renard rates Senegal as "a very, very strong team" but is convinced that his own side have what it takes to have an outside chance at the title.

Zambia squad:

Goalkeepers: Kalililo Kakonje (unattached), Joshua Titima (Power Dynamos), Kennedy Mweene (Free State Stars/South Africa)

Defenders: Nyambe Mulenga (Zesco United), Hichani Himonde (TP Mazembe/DR Congo), Francis Kasonde (TP Mazembe/DR Congo), Stopilla Sunzu (TP Mazembe/DR Congo), Kampamba Chintu (Bidvest Wits/South Africa), Davies Nkausu (Supersport United/South Africa), Joseph Musonda (Golden Arrows/South Africa)

Midfielders: Felix Katongo (Green Buffaloes), Rainford Kalaba (TP Mazembe/DR Congo), Nathan Sinkala (Green Buffaloes), Chisamba Lungu (Ural/Russia), Chris Katongo (Henan Jienge/China), Clifford Mulenga (Bloemfontein Celtic/South Africa), Isaac Chansa (Orlando Pirates/South Africa), Noah Chivuta (Free State Stars/South Africa), William Njobvu (Hapoel Ironi K.Shmona/Israel), Justine Zulu (Hapoel I.R LeZion/Israel), Jonas Sakuwaha (El-Merreikh/Sudan)

Strikers: Given Singuluma (TP Mazembe/DR Congo), Evans Kangwa (Nkana), Emmanuel Mayuka (Young Boys/Switzerland), Rodger Kola (AS Ashod/Israel), Collins Mbesuma (Golden Arrows/South Africa)

Standby: Thomas Nyirenda (Konkola Blades), James Chamanga (Dalian Shide/China)

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