Nations Cup 2013: Zambia team profile

Nations Cup record: 15 previous appearances. Best finish: Champions (2012).

Zambia's 2012 Nations Cup triumph is arguably African football's greatest story.

Quietly driven by a desire to play a match in Gabon, which they could only do by reaching the final, the Chipolopolo squad was inspired by memories of the 18 players who lost their lives in a plane disaster shortly after leaving the capital Libreville in 1993.

Little-fancied, despite their stated pre-tournament aims to honour the dead, Zambia upset the odds to win their first title - and they did it the hard way too, beating all three favourites: Senegal in the group stages, Ghana in the semi-finals and Ivory Coast in the final.

ZAMBIA'S GROUP C GAMES

  • 21/1: v Ethiopia
  • 25/1: v Nigeria
  • 29/1: v Burkina Faso

This year they have a stronger squad as they aim to defend their title.

In come defender Emmanuel Mbola, midfielder William Njobvu and striker Jacob Mulenga, who missed the dramatic triumph 12 months ago.

Inspirational captain Christopher Katongo has gone from strength to strength and was recently crowned BBC African Footballer of the Year, while classy midfielder Rainford Kalaba is fit again after a groin injury.

Coach Herve Renard has shrugged off poor results during his side's build-up to the tournament, saying: "I think we are better than last year.

"At the same stage [last year], I was very, very concerned. All our warm-up games had been poor. But look what happened then - we had nothing to show for ourselves and we won the tournament.

"I am lucky to have such a squad. A lot of pundits do not believe we can win the title again and do not want to take risks with their predictions. It is easier to say Zambia will never win the Cup of Nations again.

"Should we fail to retain the trophy, it simply means another team was better than us. However, it will be very difficult to beat this Zambian team."