By Olawale Ajimotokan, 10.15.2008
National coach of Zambia, Herve Renard believes his team would be up to the task in the event the Chipolopos are placed in the same group with Nigeria in the final phase of the African qualifying campaign for Angola and South Africa 2010.
The prospect of both Nigeria and Zambia crossing paths in the decisive stage where the eventual winner of the group will land the World Cup ticket and best three finishers going to the Nations Cup finals is high as both countries have been thrown into different pots for the draws which hold in Zurich on October 22.
The Super Eagles, who are bidding for their fourth World Cup final appearances join Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana and Egypt as the seeded teams while Zambia is in pot three with Burkina Faso, Gabon, Kenya and Benin Republic.
However, despite being considered as clear outsiders in the contest where the odds favour the big guns, Renard did not hide his desire to be paired in the same group with any one of Nigeria, Ghana or Egypt in the final battle phase.
The Frenchman told Zambian Daily Mail that he has the key to how the Eagles who are ranked the second best team in Africa could be caged because he is very familiar with the way the Nigerians play.
He also expressed similar sentiments for Egypt and Ghana. “I know how Egypt, Ghana, Morocco and Nigeria play, and I will love to avoid Cameroon and Cote d’Ivoire. Anyway, I’m ready to be paired with any team,” Renard said.
The Frenchman assisted compatriot Claude Le Roy as a member of the Black Stars of Ghana’s technical crew at the last Nations Cup final staged early in the year and obviously saw enough about the Super Eagles approach in their quarter final confrontation with Ghana in Accra.
He expressed confidence in the ability of the poorly funded Zambians to pick one Africa’s five World Cup slots and finally end their jinx of not qualifying for the world’s biggest football spectacle.
Though Renard was only contacted less than two months ago he successfully steered the Chipolopolo through a group that comprised Togo, who surprisingly qualified for the last World Cup finals in Germany, and Swaziland in the first round of the campaign in Group 11.
Though Zambia once used to be the jinx team for the Super Eagles, the balance of power tilts heavily in favour of Nigeria which defeated the Zambians in the final of the Nations Cup in 1994 in Tunisia and has featured in three World Cup finals in comparison to none by the Southern African nation.
Source: Thisday Online