Will Herve Renard walk away from Cote d’Ivoire too?

Will Herve Renard walk away from Cote d’Ivoire too?

Having now won the Africa cup of with nations with two different countries in the space of three years, the Frenchman has to decide where his career will take him next.

When French coach Herve Renard was interviewed in 2013, he showed all the attributes to be an instant hit wherever he works: young, charismatic, ambitious, confident and blessed with a dash of good humour along with a wardrobe of fine white shirts.

As he guided Cote d’Ivoire to their first Africa Nations Cup title in 23 years – a quest which culminated in a 9-8 penalty shoot-out triumph over Ghana on Sunday night in Equatorial Guinea – he hadn’t changed much. If he had, it only might have been for the better.

The Elephants failed to start Afcon 2015 strongly, not recording a victory till their third group game against Cameroon. But Cote d’Ivoire hit their stride in the knockout phases, overcoming Algeria and DR Congo via convincing 3-1 wins to set up a final showdown with Ghana.

Ghana are Cote d’Ivoire’s eastern neighbours. Renard has even helped them beat the Ivorians before, as a physical trainer on Claude Le Roy’s backroom staff at the 2008 Nations Cup. There was much history to this tie, and for Renard.

As 90 minutes became 120 and spilled into a marathon shootout, the tension was tangible for everyone – everyone apart from the ice-cool Renard.

Through it all, he lent unflappably on the Ivorian bench, inert to the emotions sweeping the encounter, his look remaining blasé as others were overcome in tears and anguish.

For Renard had seen it all before.

Three years ago in Gabonese capital Libreville, Renard had led unfancied Zambia to pull off the mother of all shocks under similar circumstances against Cote d’Ivoire. On that occasion he won and celebrated with his players in unbridled ecstasy – as in 2015 – but resigned not too long afterwards.

So what now for Renard? His record in Africa is exceptional but his sole top-flight management role in Europe was last season’s spell with Sochaux, which ended in relegation. Does he stick or does he twist again? Would he – and his legendary white shirts – abandon the Ivorian ship with the applause at its loudest as he did Zambia’s after their stunning 2012 Cup of Nations win?

In 2013, he explained why he left Zambia at such an incredible time.

“Honestly, after a big success, I think it is often better to leave and go for new challenge,” Renard opined.

“Africa gave me the chance to debut as head coach at a very big footballing event [the Afcon],” he added. “I like Africa and, really, I do not have anything like a career itinerary.”

While that comment was made after taking Zambia as far as he could, Renard may re-evaluate now he has achieved success with an Ivorian team which had previously underachieved both in Africa and at the World Cup.

For a man who wishes ‘to reach the highest possible level in the world’, namely by winning the Uefa Champions League and World Cup, Renard may not always prefer to be confined to Africa. He’s already sneaked time in Europe coaching Sochaux (from October 2013 to May 2014) between his African adventures.

Surely, he should feel at home. Africa, after all, is where he has thrived, enjoying conditions that have made him the first man to win the Cup of Nations with different countries.

That said, the 46-year-old – who played alongisde the likes of Marcel Desailly, Zinedine Zidane, and Didier Deschamps when younger – opts to keep his options wide open.

“If nobody wants me here [in Africa], I would readily go somewhere else. I will get what I deserve.”

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