Johannesburg – Zambia head coach Herve Renard says his side will fight to retain their Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) title at next year's continental showpiece in South Africa.
Chipolopolo surprised many with their victory over the Ivory Coast in this year's final to lift the trophy, but Renard believes his players are motivated and will not give up the trophy without a battle.
“I'm telling you honestly, we are hungry and we want to win more,” Renard said after Zambia's 1-0 Nelson Mandela Challenge victory over Bafana Bafana on Wednesday evening.
“We will come to South Africa next January to defend our title. We won't give up and it won't be easy to take our title.
“If someone is stronger than us, we will congratulate them.”
The Frenchman added that Zambia could not afford to rest on their laurels and would need to continue working towards future goals in order to stay relevant in African soccer.
“This is football, and if you think just because you won something, you can relax, you will go straight into a wall,” he said.
“Once again, I am very proud of this team, because it's never easy to take a friendly game seriously.
“Sometimes the players aren't motivated, but this team, this evening, showed the same spirit as we saw during this year's Africa Cup of Nations.”
Zambia enjoyed plenty of support from the crowd of less than 17 000 in the midweek clash – well below the 94 700 capacity at FNB Stadium – with Renard and his team walking over to the stand at the end of the match to thank the lively spectators for their support.
“There were a lot of Zambian supporters and since our win earlier this year, we are very proud of what we did,” Renard said.
“It was important because we were fortunate to be able to play in this fantastic stadium.
“Our next target is to get to the World Cup in 2014.
“Maybe people think for Zambia it's too much to achieve, but I am just a lucky coach to have a fantastic squad.”
Shifting the attention to Bafana Bafana, Renard said he did not envy coach Gordon Igesund's current position, taking over the reins of a national team just months before a major tournament.
“Bafana have a new coach and he has to rebuild the team.
“It's never easy when you are taking charge a few months before a very important competition, especially when you are hosting.
“There is a lot of pressure, it's never easy to play at home, even if you have a lot of support.
“I wish him all the best and I am sure he will be able to build a very good team for the next tournament.” – Sapa