2012 BBC African Footballer of the Year Chris Katongo leads Zambia’s 26 man squad called up to commence its final phase of preparations for the defence of the title they won last February in Libreville.

"It is a squad which coach Herve Renard believes has the capability to do us the honour - and that is to go to South Africa and have a successful run at defending our title," said FAZ spokesperson Erick Mwanza when he unveiled the list at a press briefing at Football House on Monday.

"When he handed me the list, he told me that as usual he would be at the team two days earlier. He just gave one reminder: and he said don't forget to ensure that you carry enough equipment and personal gear because we will only be returning home on 11th February," Mwanza added.

The squad contains attacking riches in the form of Orlando Pirates top man Collins Mbesuma, leading FC Utrecht striker Jacob Mulenga, Southampton forward Emmanuel Mayuka, El Merreikh hit man Jonas Sakuwaha and skipper Katongo. Mayuka was top scorer at the finals in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.

The 29th edition of the Africa Cup of Nations opens on 19th January when hosts South Africa take on debutants Cape Verde at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg. The final, which will also be played at FNB, is set for 10th of February and in the words of The Fox, the day before Zambia's scheduled return from the finals.

There were no major surprises in the squad as Renard kept faith in the men who took Zambia to her maiden triumph in Gabon. From the squad which won the Africa Cup only Evans Kangwa and Nyambe Mulenga miss out.

Youngsters Shadreck Malambo and Salulani Phiri made the squad alongside 2012 Zambian Footballer of the Year Mukuka Mulenga.

The Full Squad:

Goalkeepers: Kennedy Mweene (Free State Stars, RSA), Kakonje Kalililo (Napsa Stars), Joshua Titima (Power Dynamos)

Defenders: Nkausu Davies (Supersport United, RSA), Musonda Joseph (Golden Arrows, RSA), Mbola Emmanuel (FC Porto, Portugal), Sunzu Stoppila (TP Mazembe, DRC), Himoonde Hichani (TP Mazembe, DRC), Kampamba Chintu (Unattached), Phiri Salulani (Zanaco) Kasonde Francis (TP Mazembe, DRC)

Midfielders: Chansa Isaac (Henan Jienye, China), Sinkala Nathan (TP Mazembe, DRC), Njobvu William (Hapoel Be'er Sheva, Israel) Chivuta Noah (Free State Stars, RSA), Kalaba Rainford (TP Mazembe, DRC), Lungu Chisamba (FC Urals, Russia), Mulenga Mukuka (Power Dynamos), Malambo Shadreck (Red Arrows), Katongo Felix (Primero Agosto, Angola);

Strikers: Mbesuma Collins (Orlando Pirates, RSA), Mulenga Jacob (FC Utrecht, Holland), Katongo Chris (Henan Jienye, China), Mayuka Emmanuel ( Southampton, England), Sakuwaha Jonas (El Mereikh, Sudan), Chamanga James (Dalian Shide, China)