Coach Herve Renard stuck to his white shirt ‘charm’ as his Africa kings, Zambia, rode their luck in drawing 1-1 with a 10-man Ethiopia at Mbombela Stadium, South Africa on Monday.
Spirited Ethiopia could have won had Zambia goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene not denied Saladini Seid a 15th minute penalty after being tripped by Chisamba Lungu.
But there was no stopping Ethiopia’s captain Adane Girma from scoring in the 64th minute, cancelling Collins Mbesuma’s strike on the stroke of half-time.
The Orlando Pirates striker, Mbesuma, benefiting from Isaac Chansa flick onto his path between two Ethiopia defenders, swivelled to bounce his shot into the net.
Zambia went ahead minutes after Ethiopia goalkeeper Jemal Tassew was red-carded for kicking advancing Zambia midfielder Lungu.
But after break, Girma caught nervous Zambia napping as he cut clear on the left, then whipped a left-foot cracker past stretching defender Stopilla Sunzu and diving Mweene at the near post.
Zambia, ranked 39th in the world against 110 for Ethiopia, went into this Group C game on the back of two losses and two draws in consecutive warm-up matches.
And the Chipolopolo’s performance reflected every bit of their suspect form characterised by untidy defending and nervous passing.
Zambia, in a group also comprising Nigeria and Burkina Faso, have work to do if they are to return to Lusaka with the trophy.