AFCON 2013 Group C Match Previews: Zambia to commence title defence, Nigeria tussles Burkina Faso

Zambia will rely on midfielder Rainford Kalaba for creativity Zambia will rely on midfielder Rainford Kalaba for creativity

ZAMBIA Vs ETHIOPIA (Time: 15:00 GMT)

*** You can follow updates of this match by clicking here***

Zambia hopes to avoid a banana-skin start in Nelspruit on Monday when they kick-off the defence of their Africa Cup of Nations title against Ethiopia.

The African champions have not had the best of preparations, winning none of their five pre-tournament friendly games after losing three and collecting two draws.

Renard will have his strongest team available, including influential playmaker Rainford Kalaba, who has fully recovered from a groin injury that has kept him out of action since October 10, 2012.

Zambia also welcome back striker Jacob Mulenga, who returns to the Africa Cup after missing the 2012 triumph through a long-term injury.

Meanwhile, the two teams’ last Africa Cup meeting was 31 years ago when Ethiopia also last took part in the competition.

Zambia won that match 1-0 on their way to finishing third, while Ethiopia made a preliminary round exit.

Ethiopia, however, won their most recent competitive meeting against Zambia, whom they beat 2-1 in the 2010 CECAFA Cup quarterfinals.

And so with 1-0 wins over Niger and Tanzania, including a 1-1 draw against Tunisia in their pre-AFCON build-up games, the onus is on Ethiopia, a country renowned for its athletic prowess, to try and put shame to Renard's track-and-field metaphor.

NIGERIA VS BURKINA FASO (Time: 18:00 GMT)

*** You can follow updates of this match by clicking here ***

Burkina Faso coach Paul Put said he hopes to upstage Nigeria in Monday’s Group C match in Nelspruit to get off on a winning start. 

Burkina Faso will be without star striker Alain Traore (heel injury), whose stoppage time goal denied Central African Republic a place at this tournament, as well as the experienced Charles Kabore (suspension). 

On the other hand, Nigeria will be without injured goalkeeper Austin Ejide and defender Azubuike Egwuekwe (fever), one of the major discoveries of Coach Stephen Keshi from the Nigeria Premier League. 

Nigeria are yet to lose to the Stallions in six meetings. 

The Eagles have won four and drawn two of these matches, while both sides have clashed only once at the AFCON in 1978, when Burkina Faso were known as Upper Volta with Nigeria running away 4-2 winners. 

 

BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS
Last modified onMonday, 21 January 2013 18:31
Ismael Kiyonga

Senior Reporter at Kawowo Sports.

You can find him on twitter: @KiyongaIsmael

Website: www.kawowo.com Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
More in this category: « AFCON 2013: Ghana, DR Congo share spoils, Keita wins it for Mali Bright Stars, Soroti Garage Victorious as Big league Resumes »