Re­nard in line to Herve a rare Af­con hat-trick

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

CAPE TOWN: Morocco coach Herve Re­nard will chase a unique achieve­ment at this year’s Africa Cup of Na­tions (CAN) as he seeks to win the con­ti­nen­tal cham­pi­onship for a third time with three dif­fer­ent coun­tries.

Morocco are the lat­est to in­vest their hopes in the suave 48-year-old French­man, whose bronzed tan and blonde hair give him the ap­pear­ance of a vet­eran surfer rather than a foot­ball coach with a rich record.

Africa, and the Na­tions Cup in par­tic­u­lar, has proved a happy hunt­ing ground for Re­nard, whose play­ing ca­reer was spent in the lower leagues in France. After serv­ing his ap­pren­tice­ship as an as­sis­tant un­der Claude Le Roy, the god­fa­ther of coach­ing in Africa, Re­nard branched out on his own and won the 2012 Na­tions Cup with un­her­alded Zam­bia and then again in 2015 with the Ivory Coast.

The first was a ma­jor sur­prise, and with dol­lops of good for­tune as Zam­bia rode their luck to over­come the pow­er­ful Ivo­rians on penal­ties in the fi­nal in Li­bre­ville, where the 2017 ti­tle will be also de­cided. The Ivo­rians then hired him to lead their bid for the 2015 ti­tle and six months after tak­ing on the job, Re­nard put them on the win­ners’ podium too.

Yaya Toure, who cap­tained the Ivory Coast to the ti­tle two years ago, be­lieves Re­nard has the right in­gre­di­ents to pull off the feat again with Morocco.

“He’s a challenger, he’s a win­ner,” said Toure. “We wait to see what hap­pens but I think he has a good chance of win­ning this cup again be­cause he al­ways has this feel­ing, a smell, this way of mak­ing cham­pi­ons. And he knows how to gal­vanise his teams,” added the Manch­ester City mid­fielder, who has re­tired from in­ter­na­tional foot­ball, in a French tele­vi­sion in­ter­view last week.

Re­nard’s Morocco side have strong cre­den­tials for 2017 suc­cess, but Re­nard has sought to play down his chances of se­cur­ing a trio of ti­tles. “I’m not a fore­caster, I’m a com­peti­tor,” he told re­porters in the United Arab Emi­rates, where Morocco are pre­par­ing for the tour­na­ment.

“With our abil­ity, I think qual­i­fi­ca­tion for the quar­ter-fi­nals is a min­i­mum, an ab­so­lute ob­jec­tive. We have worked hard and we’ll be ready.”

Morocco start their cam­paign in Gabon next Mon­day in Group C when they meet the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo. Be­fore fac­ing the Ivory Coast in their fi­nal group game, they take on Togo, the team coached by his men­tor Le Roy, who knows what to expect.

“He (Re­nard) knows how to lead a group and he likes his play­ers,” Le Roy said.

“And when you love play­ers with­out giv­ing them gifts, with a great sense of jus­tice and un­der­stand­ing the way they feel, this is the best way to work.”

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