Zambia wary of tricky group

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Defending AFCON champions Zambia are not taking anything for granted as they attempt to navigate the potentially hazardous waters of Group C.

Zambia became the first country from southern African to win the tournament since South Africa won at home in 1996 when they overcame Côte d’Ivoire in Libreville a year ago.

They will be based in Nelspruit for the first round, where they will play Ethiopia (January 21, 2013), Nigeria (January 25) and Burkina Faso (January 29).

Herve Renard, Zambia’s 44-year-old French coach, admits that despite being champions, Chipolopolo will not be favourites in South Africa. But he is up for the challenge.

“We will live up to our responsibilities, even if we are not the favourites in this competition,” Renard told the Fifa website.

“I often say that at the CAN 2012, we were the best team in the tournament, but not necessarily the best in Africa.

“We will do the most we can to get as far as possible, and of course to try to keep our title.

“I do not underestimate anyone. I am wary of Ethiopia, who eliminated Benin and Sudan, and is a tough team to move.

“But our two main rivals are Burkina Faso, who in Alain Traore and Jonathan Pitroipa have very good individual players, and of course Nigeria, with Stephen Keshi, have just completed a very successful 2012.

“The Nigerians were absent last year, and they will want to mark their return,” he added.