Zambia manager Herve Renard said he is proud of his side, after the defending Africa Cup of Nations champions bowed out in the group stages.
A scoreless draw with eventual Group C winners Burkina Faso spelled the end of Zambia’s title defence on Tuesday, but despite going through the tournament winless – with three draws – Renard was thrilled with his side’s effort.
Zambia became the first nation not to reach the quarter-finals after winning the tournament the previous year, but that couldn’t knock their French manager.
“It is better to have won something in your life, than to always reach a quarter-final and never win anything,” he said.
“Everybody is sad of course but I think we did our best and the players played well today but we didn’t score.
“It is not the end of the world, you used to go home after the first round most times and I told you we have to accept it because that is football.”
Renard also went into bat for strikers Collins Mbseuma and Emmanuel Mayuka, who he feels are unfairly criticised for their efforts in the national team.
“It was a brave choice (to play Mbseyma and Mayuka) and they have both been on the bench in previous games,” he said.
“You can see that we have changed a lot of things but in Zambia they want to cut the heads of our players but I will defend them all the time.”
Goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene, who was Zambia’s hero in their Afcon final win over the Ivory Coast in 2012, said his side felt the pressure to score against Burkina Faso.
“In the first half we pressed them and that was the idea because we knew they would sit back and defend,” Mweene said.
“For us we were trying to press them high so they could only hit the long ball and like the coach said, in 2012 we took our chances, and this time we were not efficient in front of goal and the pitch did not help us and you could see that in the final third we were rushing and when you are chasing the game and trying to qualify you have to do that.
“But overall we weren’t disappointed with the result.”