Africa Cup of nations: Jacob Mulenga heads Zambia squad

By Kennedy GondweBBC World Service, Lusaka, Zambia
Jacob Mulenga
Jacob Mulenga

Striker Jacob Mulenga has been named in Zambia's preliminary squad for next month's Africa Cup of Nations finals.

Injury forced him to miss Chipolopolo's epic win at this year's tournament in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.

The 28 year-old, currently top scorer for Utrecht in the Dutch top flight, is part of a 26-man party announced by coach Herve Renard on Monday.

Israel-based midfielder William Njobvu, who also missed out on the 2012 finals because of injury, has been called up.

Winger Clifford Mulenga and defender Nyambe Mulenga are the only players missing from the team that beat Ivory Coast to win Zambia's first ever Nations Cup title.

Exciting midfielder Mukuka Mulenga, recently crowned Zambian Footballer of the Year, is the most high-profile home-based player.

"Local players need to be hungrier when given a chance in the national team," said Renard.

"Whenever we travel with local players we have problems because we need to work a lot more with them."

Renard will drop three players at the end of the team's preparations for the tournament which kicks off in Johannesburg on 19 January.

The reigning African champions have lined up three warm-up matches against Morocco, Norway and Namibia before starting the defence of their trophy.

Zambia are in Group C along with Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Ethiopia.

Goalkeepers: Kennedy Mweene (Free States Stars, South Africa), Joshua Titima (Power Dynamos) and Kalililo Kakonje (Napsa Stars)

Defenders: Stoppila Sunzu, Hichani Himoonde, Francis Kasonde (TP Mazembe, DR Congo), Davies Nkausu (Supersport United), Joseph Musonda (Golden Arrows),Chintu Kampamba (unattached), Salulani Phiri (Zanaco), Emmanuel Mbola (FC Porto)

Midfielders: Rainford Kalaba, Nathan Sinkala (TP Mazembe, DR Congo), Mukuka Mulenga (Power Dynamos), Christopher Katongo, Isaac Chansa (Henan Jianje), Chisamba Lungu (Ural Oblast) , Felix Katongo (Petro Athletico, Angola), Noah Chivuta (Free States Stars, South Africa), William Njobvu (Hapoel Beer Sheba, Israel) and Shadreck Malambo (Red Arrows)

Strikers: Emmanuel Mayuka (Southampton, England) Collins Mbesuma (Orlando Pirates, South Africa), Jacob Mulenga (Utrecht, Netherlands), James Chamanga (Liaojing Whowin, China), Jonas Sakuwaha (TP Mazembe, DR Congo)