Messi’s conqueror Renard wants more ‘unforgettable’ World Cup moments

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PARIS: Herve Renard (pix) masterminded defeat of Lionel Messi’s Argentina in the Qatar World Cup group stage and now is hoping to experience more “emotions that you can’t buy” at the Women’s World Cup.

The 54-year-old gave up a lucrative contract as coach of Saudi Arabia’s men — who he led to a famous win over eventual champions Argentina in Qatar — to take over the women’s team of his native France.

They face Jamaica on Sunday in Sydney in their Group F opener and Renard told AFP that money is not what drives him.

“I go looking for emotions. World Cups are magical,“ he said in the lead-up to the tournament in Australia and New Zealand.

“Australia is a football country that likes women’s sports. The stadiums will be full and there will be a great atmosphere. These are emotions that you can’t buy.

“What I experienced a few months ago against Argentina, I could have been the richest man in the world and I wouldn’t be able to buy the emotions.

“So I will be looking for these emotions again. That is my adrenaline and I hope to experience more unforgettable moments.”

Renard took over a France team that was in disarray four months ago after a player mutiny precipitated the sacking of Corinne Diacre.

That may have been a daunting prospect for less wily operators, but Renard can call on rich experience.

A double African champion instantly recognisable on the touchline in his trademark white shirt, he has coached numerous clubs including a spell in England’s lower leagues at Cambridge United two decades ago.

He has become a specialist at working with national teams since leading Zambia to a remarkable triumph at the Africa Cup of Nations in 2012.

He won the same competition with the Ivory Coast in 2015 and coached Morocco before moving to Saudi Arabia in 2019.

“Since I left Lille (in 2015), I have favoured working with national teams and I would find it difficult now to go back,“ he said.

“I like this role and I feel good in it. The lifestyle is completely different and I find there are a lot of positives in it.

“I have been lucky in my life to be able to bring whole countries onto the street and that is priceless.

“To see a whole city buzzing is great, but a whole country is even better.”

– ‘Need to believe’ –

France are perhaps the great underachievers in international women’s football, with their best performance at a World Cup their run to the semi-finals in 2011.

They have gone out of the last two tournaments in the quarter-finals, while they lost in the semi-finals at last year’s Euro.

That is despite boasting some of the finest players in the world, including centre-back and captain Wendie Renard of multiple Champions League winners Lyon, and the forward Kadidiatou Diani.

“The first thing you need to do is believe, and not just say it, but do it,“ said Renard, whose team will also play Brazil and Panama in the group phase at the World Cup.

“You need to have an exceptional mindset too. I don’t know any other recipe for winning.

“Lots of players in our team have already won a lot of things with their clubs. Why couldn’t they do the same thing with their national team?

“They know how it works, so it is possible.”

Renard has his work cut out after being appointed so late in the day, so he is not getting too carried away as to France’s prospects.

“France have been in the semi-finals before but it was quite a long time ago now,“ he said.

“If we are lucky enough to get to the last four again, then we can start to talk about even bigger objectives.” –AFP

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