Zambia coach Herve Renard has insisted his players will do their best to win their first ever African Cup of Nations title.
Zambia play Ghana in the tournament semifinals on Wednesday.
“Our target was to reach the semifinal, because Zambia hasn't achieved that since 1996. Two years ago in Angola, we lost in the quarterfinal, but we learnt from that experience. This time, we are a better team,” Renard told the official website of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) on Tuesday.
Zambia defeated Sudan 3-0 in the quarterfinal to reach their first semifinal for 16 years. They now face four-time champions Ghana in the coastal city of Bata to reach the final on 12 February in Gabon.
“It is the most important game of my career," said Renard. "I experienced a semifinal as an assistant with Ghana in 2008. When you play in the semis, your target is to reach the final and we are going to do that.
“Ghana are the best team in terms of consistency in Africa and are favourites. I was with them in 2008 and 80 percent of the current team were part of that team. We won’t give up for anything. Also, we have to be tactically efficient.”
Renard said this year is his team's best opportunity to win the tournament due to the absence of titleholders Egypt, Cameroon, Algeria and Nigeria, while heavyweights like Morocco, Tunisia, Senegal and Gabon have already crashed out of the tournament.
“We have an advantage with players who have been together for long time. We have no big names and the star is the team. Players like Emmanuel Mayuka, Christopher Katongo, and Rainford Kalaba are often underrated because they are not playing in major leagues abroad, but they are very good players.
“I have a good base of players who can deliver the result. I told my players we have a few days to go and they have to sacrifice for the country and make all Zambians proud.
“We have a chance to win the title. Zambia lost in two finals (1974 and 1994), and this generation can go one better than their predecessors,” concluded Renard.
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