“I don’t think I offended anyone”: Hervé Renard looks back on the episode with Ivory Coast

“Congratulations to them.” Big smile, Hervé Renard did not forget to send a message to Côte d’Ivoire, winner of the 2024 African Cup of Nations. It must be said that the coach of the French women’s team did not escaped questions about the recent episode concerning him. At the end of January, the Ivorian Federation contacted him in the middle of CAN to take charge of the Elephants while retaining his position in France. A request ultimately refused by the FFF for lack of financial agreement.

Himself winner of the CAN in 2015 with Ivory Coast, Hervé Renard was in Lyon this Wednesday to announce the list of 24 players called up for the Final Four of the Women’s Nations League. Three days after the coronation of the Ivorians, which he did not see live since he was present on Sunday evening at Groupama Stadium for the D1 OL-PSG clash (1-1), the fifty-year-old continues on his line: the two positions were not incompatible.

Three weeks after this episode with Ivory Coast, can you tell us how you experienced this moment?

HERVÉ RENARD. In a serene way. I’ve been contacted. We must not reverse the roles. I thought about. I know the African continent by heart. I experienced an exceptional adventure with this Ivory Coast team in 2015. The challenges are part of my career that can be described as chaotic and different. Sometimes you have to accept differences, agree to be more tolerant. I accept comments and the way of seeing things. But I don’t think I offended anyone. I asked the Ivorian Federation to contact my president at the FFF. They talked. My priority was to continue with the French women’s team. Like it or not, I would make the same decision today. Business leaders are also club presidents. The best example is there (Editor’s note: Jean-Michel Aulas). It’s strange that we can put limits and barriers on ourselves. We can debate… But the episode is closed. The objective is clear today: the Women’s Nations League.

“When you have a problem with your wife from a distance, you need to sit down and give a concrete explanation”

Do you intend to talk about it with your players on Monday during the rally?

It is mandatory. When you are on the move and you have a problem with your long-distance wife, you need to sit down and take stock, give a concrete explanation. This is what I will do with them.

You recall Delphine Cascarino, back after a serious knee injury. So were the signs encouraging?

For those who saw the last 25 minutes of the OL PSG match, there is no discussion possible. She made the difference for the Lyonnaises. In complete agreement with the OL staff, we will not skip any steps. But she will bring us what she knows how to do.

You put Selma Bacha in the list of defenders even though she was in the middle the last few times. Is it voluntary?

If it were just me, I wouldn’t post posts but an entire list. It’s to fill in boxes, we’ll say (smile). She is capable of playing multiple positions. I like versatile players, you know that.

The novelty is the presence of the young Parisian defender Thiniba Samoura, 20 years old. Why now ?

During this high-level match that was OL-PSG, she showed serenity. She has impressive running speed, a sense of anticipation. She made a lot of progress, without much fanfare, she won her place at PSG. It’s not nothing. Its progress is constant. She is a very important player of the future. His biggest strength is his athleticism. And in duels, it is difficult to pass. She has all the qualities to win in the French team.

Amandine Henry joined Lille during the break in the American championship to play. But with a three-match suspension, she hasn’t been seen since January 20. Is this problematic for you?

I should have discussed it with the Disciplinary Commission (laughs). It’s a joke, I point out… We’ll see what athletic condition she’ll be in. If there is a delay, we have what to make up for if necessary.

How to compensate for the absence of Wendie Renard in defense, injured in a hip?

We have something to answer for in this sector of the game with the defenders we have. Maëlle (Lakrar) had a brilliant World Cup with perfect defensive heading. Thiniba is progressing. We got Griedge Mbock back a few months ago. We will miss Wendie. I hope she will be there with us. We need her for support.

What do you think of the German team, your first opponent in the semi-final?

It is a huge reference on the international scene. We will have to be a little more vigilant in marking a certain attacker (Editor’s note: Alexandra Popp) who is very strong in the air (laughs). The meeting takes place in a magnificent stadium to obtain a ticket for a continental final. We can have a very nice party. I hope the stadium will be as full as possible. It’s a message: there are still places available so take them.

You are at the end of your contract after the Olympic Games. Is this final or are you thinking of discussing a possible extension with the FFF?

For the moment, I am on contract until the end of August 2024. I have been told things that have been said. A lot of people speak for me… In six months, I don’t know what could happen. We’ll see.

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