Newly crowned African
champions Zambia find themselves embroiled in a series of
potentially distracting off-field rows as they prepare to face
powerful Ghana in a World Cup qualifier in Ndola on
The Group D clash come four months after the Zambians upset
Ghana in the Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals and went on to win
their first continental title.
A defeat in Sudan last weekend has set off a chain of
accusations about poor preparations and travel arrangements,
culminating in coach Herve Renard saying he had not been paid
for six months and would leave unless he got his money by the
end of the month.
"There is an incredible lack of respect and consideration,"
Renard (pictured) told French daily L'Equipe in an interview before the
match as a row over the loss in Sudan threatened to unravel the
success of mid-February.
Saturday's match marks the official opening of the new,
Chinese-built stadium in Ndola, where a capacity crowd of 40,000
is expected for Zambia's first home match since winning the
Nations Cup title.
There are 20 qualifiers being played across Africa for a
second successive weekend, with several others sides also in
South Africa compete under a caretaker coach after firing
Pitso Mosimane 24 hours after they were held to a home draw by
Ethiopia, some 71 places behind them in the FIFA rankings, in
their opening Group A match last Sunday.
Bafana Bafana now face neighbours Botswana away on Saturday
in a tricky tie where more potential embarrassment lies in
Niger, surprise finalists at the recent Nations Cup, are
also under temporary leadership after French coach Rolland
Courbis walked out on them in midweek. They are away in Congo on
Key ties are being played in Marrakesh, where Morocco host
the Ivory Coast in Group C, and in Conakry on Sunday, where
Egypt are away to Guinea.
Libya and Mali are forced to host their home matches at
neutral venues because of instability in their countries.
Libya's encounter with Cameroon in Sfax, Tunisia, on Sunday
is also being played behind closed doors on the order of the
local authorities over security concerns.
Mali, who were surprisingly beaten last weekend, have taken
their match against Algeria on Sunday to Ouagadougou in
neighbouring Burkina Faso.
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