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


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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.


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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.