Zambia coach dedicates triumph to Kalusha

Mahmoud Mohamed Elassal, Monday 13 Feb 2012

Herve Renard dedicates Zambia's first African Cup of Nations trophy to Zambian football legend Kalusha Bwalya

Zambia's head coach Herve Renard (Photo: Reuters)

Zambia coach Herve Renard has dedicated his team's 2012 African Cup of Nations triumph to the Chipolopolo football icon and current president of the country's football association, Kalusha Bwalya.

“He is the best Zambian player of the last century ... He was criticised for giving me a second chance and I dedicate the victory to him because he gave me the opportunity to coach this team,” Renard was quoted as saying by Cafonline on Monday.

“I also thank Claude Le Roy for giving me my first experience in Africa as Ghana's assistant coach in 2008,” he added.

Renard said that his team was destined to win the title after a campaign that saw them start every game as underdogs.

“It was unimaginable before the start of the tournament and we realised that we would have to believe in ourselves. We were not the best team but had the strength to fight on.”

“We wanted to honour the dead players and that strengthened us. Our first game was against Senegal and the [Zambia] team was on its way to Senegal for a match [in 1993] when the plane crashed. The plane crashed in Gabon and we won the final in Gabon. It is a sign of destiny.”

Kalusha avoided the 1993 plane crash involving the Zambian team because his was travelling separately to Dakar from his European base.

Renard said he hoped the tournament victory would open doors for his players to play in Europe.

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