BENGUELA, Angola - Zambia have to beat high-flying Gabon today to reach the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) quarterfinals.
Zambia are bottom of Group D with a point from two matches, but victory at the Ombaka Stadium could well take them to their first last-eight spot since 1996.
"(Today) we play against Gabon and we must win," said Zambia midfielder Isaac Chansa, who added that the team were unlucky to lose 3-2 to Cameroon on Sunday in their second Group D match.
Chansa's must-win declaration comes on the heels of a controversy stirred by coach Herve Renard back in Zambia, when he said that the team were not welcome in their country and that they were more at home when they play away from Zambia.
"Zambians are not proud of Zambia," Renard said. "When you are home, comments from Zambia are hard but from Europe and Africa, they are happy. You have to be realistic and believe in yourselves because it is a long process building this team."
Gabon are the in-form team after losing out to Cameroon for a place at the World Cup.
They avenged their failure to reach South Africa in part when they beat Cameroon 1-0 in Lubango to get their Afcon campaign off to a fine start before they drew 0-0 with Tunisia.
As co-hosts of the next Afcon, Gabon are under pressure to post an impressive performance in Angola, and they have already proved this is not a one-man band - that is, Hull City's Daniel Cousin and 10 others.
Midfielder Eric Moutouloungui has been full of running and enterprise and could have grabbed at least two goals against Tunisia on Sunday, while Ebang Ovono has looked safe and assured in goal.
"We must work hard to win this match," Le Mans goalkeeper Ovono told AFP. "Zambia are a good team and they were unlucky to lose through a late goal to Cameroon. We have to be at our best." - Sapa-AFP