Herve Renard became a house hold name in Africa when he led the Chipolopolo of Zambia to its first African Cup of Nations triumph in 2013.
The man who earned the nickname, “Witch-doctor” for leading Zambia to victory against the odds seems to know African football like the back of his hands. African football and Herve Renard are like a match made in heaven. They complement each other very well.
Before the blonde-haired coach became famous for his success with African national teams, he had unsuccessful stints with a few club sides abroad.
Herve Renard who is a former football player did not have a stellar career. He never featured in the French national team having only played for French club sides AS Cannesm Stade de Vallauriss and SC Draguignan. His playing career lasted from 1983 to 1998.
The French man began his coaching career in 1999 with one of his former clubs, SC Draguignan. He left in 2001. The following year, he became assistant coach to Claude Le Roy at Chinese side Shanghai Cosco.
He spent one year in China and managed Cambridge United in 2004. Later that year, he became manager of a club in Vietnam called Song Da Nam Dinh. From there, he went on to become manager of AS Cherbourg in 2005 and left in 2007.
His first stint with African football came when he teamed up with his former boss and fellow French man, Claude Le Roy for the Ghana national team. It was under the tutelage of Le Roy that he began to learn about African football. The French man got his first national team coaching job in May 2008 when he was appointed manager of Zambia national side.
At the 2010 AFCON, which was his first major tournament, to the bewilderment of football enthusiasts, he led Zambia to the quarter final. Prior to then, the last time Zambia got to that stage was in 1996 in South Africa.
The ambitious coach left Zambia after two years in charge and was hired two days later by Angola to take charge of the national team. He didn’t stay long as manager of Angola as he resigned only after six months.
In January 2011, the French man joined USM Alger, an Algerian Football Club to become the head coach.
As fate would have it, he had a second spell with Zambia. October 22, 2011, he had agreement with Zambia and was given a one-year contract.
The name ‘ Herve Renard ’ was not known to many in the football world until his remarkable feat in 2012. Against all odds, he guided the Zambian team to their AFCON victory. They defeated Didier Drogba’s star-studded Ivory Coast in a penalty shootout. The victory was very special for all Zambians as a result of the 1993 tragedy when 18 players died in a plane crash. Ironically, the plane crashed just miles from the stadium where the final was played in Gabon. It was an emotional night and Renard was at the center of it.
READ ALSO: 32 Teams emerge for Russia 2018
He had a brief spell with French club FC Sochaux after his contract with Zambia expired in 2013. He left the French club after it was relegated in April 2014. He came back to Africa a few months later as the head coach of the Ivory Coast national team. It was at Ivory Coast he cemented his status as one of the best coaches ever to grace the African game. Renard led Ivory Coast to African Cup of Nations victory for the second time in the country’s history. He made history by becoming the first coach to win two AFCONs with two different countries.
The wandering coach left Ivory Coast and tried his luck again in one of the clubs in his home country, France. This time around, it was Lille, a high profile French club. He was third time unlucky as he was sacked after having 13 points in 13 games for the club.
His next job after he was sacked from Lille in 2015 was with the Moroccan national team. This time around, his target was to qualify them for the World Cup, which is the biggest football event and arguably the biggest sporting event in the World.
Like Ivory Coast, Morocco is a French speaking nation, so the French man had no qualms settling down. While in Morocco, he was doing so well that Algeria, another French speaking country, which had sacked its coach wanted Renard as replacement. It did not work out.
Before qualifying for the World Cup, his immediate target was to get Morocco to the 2016 AFCON and try to get to the semi-final of the competition. He got them to the competition and they were knocked out in the quarter-final by Egypt.
The pinnacle of his success was yet to come. In November 2017, Renard qualified Morocco to Russia 2018 World Cup. This would be the first time Morocco would be participating in the World Cup since 1998, thanks to the wizardry of Herve Renard.
Morocco qualified ahead of the Elephants of Ivory Coast. The qualification was decided on the last day with Morocco needing only a draw, while the Ivorians needed a win. The match, which was played in Abidjan, Ivory Coast ended 2-0 in favour of Morocco. When the final whistle was blown, the coach kept his calm and did not celebrate despite the gravity of the victory. He did that out of respect for his former employers. Throughout the qualifiers, Morocco did not concede one goal.
The World Cup is a different ball game as it is not African football. The best teams from all over the world will be there to give their very best.
However, Renard who has been lucky with African teams is leading an African side to the World Cup. His good luck may just continue in Russia.