HERVE Renard has described Nigeria as a "big team" but is optimistic Zambia will top Group C in the team's quest to retain the AfCON trophy.

And Renard is hopeful the second-grade Chipolopolo, which takes on Saudi Arabia this Saturday in an international friendly, will reveal some discoveries that could help plug any leakage in the team which might arise as Zambia heads to South Africa to defend its maiden AfCON trophy next month.

In an interview in Lusaka yesterday after a morning workout for the developmental side at Olympic Youth Development Centre, Renard said the 1994 African champions are strong but Zambia will finish top of Group C to repeat the feat achieved in in 2010 and 2012.

"The big team is Nigeria, they are a strong team; we know the quality of the players of Nigeria, we know they are strong but we will have to finish first in our group like in 2012 and 2012," the Frenchman said. "The commitment of our players is fantastic so we are not fearing anyone,"

Renard, who declared his chargesready to defend the Africa Cup of Nations trophy, said he is optimistic the six-week training for the team is enough to prepare.

He said Chipolopolo will regroup n Johannesburg on December 26 for final jelling for the AfCON defence.

"We will be in camp on 26th of December in Johannesburg, almost one month before our games," he said. "This is a lot of time. We can do a lot of work in that time. We are very confident that we will have enough time to prepare the team. We are going there with a fantastic challenge to keep the cup. It's a very difficult challenge but we believe in ourselves".

Renard said the Saudi Arabia outing was important for the Chipolopolo.
"It's a process to include two or three players; I know it's not a lot but Chisamba Lungu and Nathan Sinkala came from the trip to India last year," said Renrad. "They Sinkala and Lungu followed the process, played very well after giving them the chance and they finished African Champions".

The travelling party to Riyadh includes Italy-based goalie Luciano Pasquini.

Defenders: Aaron Katebe, Kampamba Chintu, Salulani Phiri, Chishimba Changala.
Midfielders: Chishimba Lungu, Roderick Kabwe, Joseph Sitali, Mukuka Mulenga, Musonda Lubambo, Kangwa Chileshe, Shadreck Malambo.
Strikers: Lewis Macha, Moses Phir, Evans Kangwa, Reynold Kampamba.