Herve Renard opens up on France’s preparations towards the Women’s World Cup

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Not many coaches have the privilege of leading a team in a soccer World Cup. Herve Renard will have this opportunity twice within a year. The extensively experienced manager is expected to guide the French women’s team in the tournament jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand, just eight months after being in charge of the Saudi Arabian men’s team at the World Cup in Qatar.

Herve Renard’s international reputation skyrocketed when Saudi Arabia achieved the unexpected, a remarkable 2-1 comeback victory against eventual champions Argentina in their first match of the Qatar tournament. 

The French football federation is hopeful that he can work another miracle by transforming a team that rebelled against his predecessor, Corinne Diacre, into world champions in a short amount of time. 

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Despite having only been in the position for three months, Renard has achieved positive results, including a recent 3-0 triumph over Ireland in Dublin, as well as victories against Colombia and Olympic champions Canada. 

With just 10 days until France’s first match against Jamaica, Renard has little time to reflect on the past, but he states that his team has been “flawless” in terms of their work ethic and attitude.

“To be honest with you, when I first came I didn’t ask a lot of questions because it was not under my responsibility,” he told reporters in Melbourne on the eve of France’s World Cup warmup against Australia on Thursday.

“It’s always easy to judge from outside. But the most important is to start together on the right way.”

“All the coaches they have a different philosophy on the field, outside of the field. My philosophy is clear – it’s we can’t win anything without a very good team spirit.”

Diacre’s final years as the head of Les Bleues were turbulent, with senior players being excluded and others publicly expressing dissatisfaction with her management style. Following an internal review conducted by the French federation, it was determined that there was an “irreversible” breakdown in the relationship between Diacre and the players. 

As a result, Diacre was dismissed from her position just five months before the World Cup. The new manager has reached out to some of the players who had fallen out of favor under Diacre. Wendie Renard, the team captain and a steadfast defender, who had previously left the squad due to mental health reasons, has returned, along with Eugenie Le Sommer, the top goal-scorer. 

Despite the nation’s talented players and footballing history, the women’s national team has never reached the final of a major championship. However, Herve Renard, who is 54 years old, has a proven track record of successfully turning around teams quickly. 

Shortly after starting his second tenure as the coach of Zambia, he led them to victory in the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations. He achieved the same feat with Ivory Coast in the 2015 tournament, becoming the first coach to win the title with two different nations.

The Argentina surprise in Qatar was another memorable moment in his career, even though Saudi Arabia was eliminated from the tournament before the knockout phase. The videos of his motivational speeches before the match and at halftime, aimed at inspiring his team against the South Americans, gained millions of views online. Midfielder Grace Geyoro supported her coach’s statement about the positive relationship between players and staff.

“Today we have a group like a second family and that is very important because we hope to spend more than 40 days together,” she told reporters.

“So this is something that we need to go further in the competition.”

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