Zambia halts losing run, draws 0-0 with Morocco
African champion Zambia halted a three-game losing streak just two weeks before the start of its continental title defense but still only drew 0-0 with Morocco at Soweto's Rand Stadium on Tuesday.
The Zambians missed good chances in the friendly when midfielder Rainford Kalaba wasted a clear sight at goal and Mukuka Mulenga's late shot was pushed onto the crossbar by Moroccan goalkeeper Nadir Lamyaghri with eight minutes to go.
French coach Herve Renard's Zambia mostly controlled the game and also had Utrecht striker Jacob Mulenga back for his first international after a long injury layoff.
The result eased some pressure on Renard, who led Zambia to its first major title at the 2012 African Cup of Nations but whose team was starting to be criticized at home after losses to Saudi Arabia, Tanzania and Angola in the buildup to this year's tournament.
Renard was able to give key players Jacob Mulenga, Kalaba and Porto defender Emmanuel Mbola workouts in Soweto and not far from Soccer City, where the 2013 Cup of Nations will kick off on Jan. 19.
Zambia starts its defense against Ethiopia on Jan. 21 and also faces Nigeria and Burkina Faso in Group C in the northern city of Nelspruit. Morocco is in Group A with South Africa, Cape Verde and Angola and plays Angola on the opening night of the tournament.