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Africa Cup of Nations

Herve Renard on how he won Afcon with Zambia and Ivory Coast

15:55 GMT 29/10/2019
Herve Renard Lille Ligue 1
The French coach enjoyed his spell in Africa where he won two Afcon titles and is now based in Saudi Arabia

Former Zambia coach Herve Renard does not believe Chipolopolo’s historical 2012 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) triumph was a stroke of "luck".

Starting the tournament co-hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea as rank outsiders, Zambia stunned heavyweights Ivory Coast in the final to be crowned African champions for the first time ever.

Renard who then had not previously tasted success on the continent describes the 2012 tournament as “excellent” and a culmination of thorough build-up.

“Yes, when I coached Zambia, the team had a lot of young players who were willing to work hard. They were technically adept and the atmosphere was excellent. They were willing to do everything I said, and we wanted to compete for titles, not just prove ourselves,” Renard told Fifa.com.

“At the 2010 Afcon, we made it to the quarter-finals for the first time in 14 years. It was a very good foundation on which to build for the 2012 edition, which was an amazing tournament.

“We played very well. In every game, we seized our chances and continued winning until we reached the final. The players were very committed and capitalised on that historic opportunity to win the title against Côte d'Ivoire. It was an excellent tournament, though many said it was just a stroke of luck.”

The Frenchman’s stint in Africa also included guiding Ivory Coast to the 2015 Afcon title, as well as taking Morocco to the 2018 Fifa World Cup for the first time in 20 years.

“True, when you win the trophy once, you just want to get your hands on it again. With Côte d'Ivoire, we went into the 2015 edition with our eyes set on the title,” he said.

Making the triumph with Ivory Coast significant for Renard was the fact his star-studded squad had some players valuing the Afcon crown more than their previous achievements with big European clubs.

“The team was full of fantastic players, our relationship was strong and I put my trust in them. With this combination, you can achieve success, regardless of the obstacles you face," said Renard.

“We faced Ghana in the final, which went to penalties. We missed the first two, but I knew it wasn’t over yet; the players wanted to do the impossible and win the title after twice being runners-up.

“I remember Yaya and Kolo Toure saying that this was the highlight of their careers. They knew the importance of achieving glory with the national team even though they’d won many titles with their clubs in Europe.”

Renard is now coach of the Saudi Arabia national team, having left Morocco after the 2019 Afcon finals in Egypt.