Mulenga takes the positives

Zambia departed from the CAF Africa Cup of Nations on Wednesday evening, eliminated in the first round, but with their pride intact after drawing 1-1 with defending champions Egypt in their final Group C game.

Chris Katongo's late equaliser in Kumasi on Wednesday saw coach Patrick Phiri declare that his side would be able to leave the tournament with their heads held high.

Zambia beat Sudan 3-0 in their group opener, but defensive errors saw them crumble to a 5-1 defeat at the hands of Otto Pfister's Cameroon.

Eventually they finished on four points, behind group winners Egypt (seven) and Cameroon on six.

One of their best players was French-based striker Jacob Mulenga, whose presence contributed to the attacking flair of the Chipoloppolo Boys. Mulenga is currently on loan with Ligue 1 side Strasbourg from Chateauroux. It was your first Cup of Nations, you missed the last one in Egypt because of injury. What was the experience like for you?
Jacob Mulenga:
It was great, a first time for me which made it really great. I was thankful I managed to get a goal and make an assist. After all, I'm very thankful and happy, save for our second game [the 5-1 defeat against Cameroon], where we were poor, so yes I'm happy to appear at the Cup of Nations, it was an honour

Did the tournament live up to your expectations?
It did. In fact, it was much tougher than I though it would be. You really have to be in form for this competition. Playing every four days was really hard. But I enjoyed it.

Did it help your own game - the quality of players who competed with and against?
The lessons I learnt are that any mistake made at this level get punished. You also only get one chance to get it right. A lot of mistakes cost us and here you really can't afford to make any mistakes

What are the positives you can take out of the tournament?
We have a young team, so we're aiming for the next one. Most of these players are around 23 to 25 years old and we also have had a lot of U-20 players. So now we look ahead to the World Cup qualifiers which start in June. It is going to be hard.

Now you head back immediately to your club in France. What are your ambitions with Racing Strasbourg?
I have to prove a point, I have just recently become a starter in the first team and I'm now going back to try and prove myself there once again.