COACH Herve Renard has taken the blame for Zambia’s rather lacklustre performance that saw 10-man Ethiopia hold the African champions in yesterday’s Group C opener here.
And his opposite Sewnet Bishaw was happy with the draw and that the team will perform even better with every coming game.
Renard told a post-match briefing at the Mbombela Stadium that “we got what we deserved.”
He said Zambia’s fans expected a better result and as coach he takes the responsibility for giving them less than what they got.
He said without goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene’s great performance, the result could have been worse.
“Today we have to thank our goalkeeper. Without Mweene, we could have had a bad result, but we got what we deserved,” Renard said.
Mweene saved a first half penalty off the foot of Ethiopia top scorer Saladin Said Ahmed, pulled off a couple of other good shots and also took great command of his area.
Renard also said he was not surprised by Ethiopia’s good performance.
He said he has said it before that the side is good and they proved it in the game.
Asked by a Nigerian journalist if the result put him under pressure, Renard said “maybe you [Nigeria] will be under pressure against Ethiopia”.
And Bishaw said he was happy with the draw because it came 31 years after Ethiopia participated at the AfCON finals.
“It is fantastic. Our players have shown talent to the rest of the world,” he said.
Bishaw said Zambia is a strong team but his side has been getting better with each game it has played and he expects Ethiopia to perform well against Burkina Faso and Nigeria, the other teams in the group.
He said his 10-man team managed to contain Zambia by having one striker attracting Chipolopolo defenders and this levelled the numbers on the rest of the pitch.
“That is why we dominated the midfield and scored,” he said.
On the sending off of goalkeeper Tasew Jemal Bushura, the coach said that was an undeserved decision by referee Castane Otogo.
“The goalkeeper had the right to come out. That should not have been a red card, but the referee’s decision has to be accepted,” he said.
On the violence reaction by Ethiopia fans to the red card, Bishaw said “that is normal” because they were reacting to something they did not like.