Hosts Côte d’Ivoire attempted to appoint former coach Herve Renard for remainder of AFCON 2023

* France not willing to loan the 55-year-old as he is currently the coach of the France women’s team

* Renard enjoys great popularity in Côte d’Ivoire after leading the team to the 2015 African title

* He also won the competition with Zambia in 2012 and has also coached Morocco and Angola

AFP Sport & Supersport

Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2023 hosts, Côte d’Ivoire have failed in a remarkable bid to appoint former coach Herve Regard to guide the remainder of the tournament after the French Football Federation (FFF) refused to release him.


The FFF confirmed to AFP that they were not willing to loan the 55-year-old, who is currently the coach of the France women’s team, saying talks had taken place between the Ivorian Football Federation and their French counterparts in an attempt to bring in Renard midway through the AFCON.

Renard enjoys great popularity in Côte d’Ivoire after leading the team to the 2015 African title. He also won the competition with Zambia in 2012 and has also coached Morocco and Angola.

Reynard after winning the AFCON with Côte d’Ivoire in 2015

Yet he is under contract as coach of the French women’s team through to the end of this year’s Paris Olympics, and Les Bleues also have a UEFA Nations League semifinal to play against Germany in Lyon on February 23.

The Ivorians had hoped to have Renard on the bench for their last-16 tie against reigning champions Senegal on Monday, while the AFCON final takes place on February 11.

The Elephants squeezed into the last 16 as a best third-placed team after a group stage in which they defeated Guinea-Bissau 2-0 before losing 1-0 to Nigeria and 4-0 to Equatorial Guinea.

Jean-Louis Gasset was sacked as coach on Wednesday due to the team’s unconvincing form, with former player Emerse Fae named as interim boss — becoming the second team to sack their coach during the tournament, following in the footsteps of Tanzania by dismissing Jean-Louis Gasset.

Emerse Fae takes over a team that is not as strong as past Ivorian sides but still boasts quality, particularly in midfield, as he knows only a drastic improvement when attacking will offer any hope.

The stage is officially set for the AFCON Côte d’Ivoire 2023 knockout stages and while being one of the favourites, Senegal have lost both previous AFCON matches against Côte d’Ivoire and must bury a jinx which has seen the last six holders fail to retain the trophy.

Few in Côte d’Ivoire could have contemplated that their team, one of the traditional powerhouses of the African game and two-time continental champions, could be eliminated in the group stage.

Yet they came within a whisker of becoming the first AFCON hosts to go out in the first round since Gabon in 2017, and just the second since Tunisia in 1994.

However, they squeezed through as the last of the four best third-placed sides and now face Senegal and it remains to be seen if they can compete with the defending champions.

The Lions of Teranga

The Lions of Teranga have so far lived up to their billing in Côte d’Ivoire, with coach Aliou Cisse’s side alone in finishing the group stage with a 100 percent record.

Led by Sadio Mane, they swept aside Gambia, Cameroon and Guinea and can be confident going into a last-16 tie with the Ivorians in Yamoussoukro.

Meanwhile, Morocco, the continent’s top-ranked team, eased through with seven points and the sense is there must be more to come from a side led by Paris Saint-Germain full-back Achraf Hakimi, as they face South Africa next.


The tournament is on course to be far more prolific than either of the two previous editions to feature 24 teams, after 89 goals were scored in the group stage.

That average of 2.5 per game marks a huge increase after 68 were scored in the first round in Cameroon two years ago, and in the first expanded Afcon in Egypt in 2019.

Senegal got to the final of both of those tournaments, and won the title for the first time in 2022.