|Zambia's coach Herve Renard|
Zambia coach Herve Renard has shouldered the blame, admitting the defending champions were not at their best in their 1-1 stalemate against 10-man Ethiopia in their opening Group C Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) match in Nelspruit on Monday evening.
Renard was disappointed with the result, but he felt it was a fair outcome.
“I think today it’s the fault of the coach because he did not prepare his side to start very well,” Renard said.
“They (Ethiopia) have very good players, they are used to playing together. They showed for all Africa and for all around the world, like their coach said, they play very good football.
“The Zambians did not play well today, but I think the merit today should be with the Ethiopian team.”
It was an action-packed game, with the Ethiopians missing a penalty and ending the clash with 10 players after goalkeeper Jemal Tassew was sent off in the 31st minute, having taken down Chisamba Lungu outside the box.
The Zambians were in front at half-time, with former Orlando Pirates midfielder Isaac Chansa setting up Bucs striker Collins Mbesuma who hit the back of the net, but the east-African side showed character to bounce back through Adane Girma.
Ethiopia coach Sewnet Bishaw was pleased with the performance of his side, who are playing in their first Afcon tournament since 1982.
“Its fantastic for our football because our players have shown the world that they can play football,” Bishaw said.
“Football needs experience and we have been together for a long time. A team needs to play lots of international matches.
“We were able to challenge the defending champions, and as you know Zambia are a very strong team.”