Herve Renard’s Magic Wand and the Story of Cote d’Ivoire Golden Era | Champions of Africa

The expeditionary, Herve Renard, has won the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) again; this time for Cote d’Ivoire. The France tactician seem to have mastered the magic of African football over 8 years of his sojourn in the ritual filled continent; and his several experiment as he moved from one country to another has began to pay-off.

In 2012, he tramp upon the graves of Zambian footballers that perished in April 1993, after the plane carrying the squad clash off the coast of Gabon, and invoked their spirit to live, and then he led the dark horse, Zambian national team, to win its first AFCON Trophy that year.

Renard seem to have discovered something about African football that has even remain a mystery to his fellow expeditionary, Claude Le Roy, the man who brought him to Africa as his assistant for the Ghana National team in 2007.

Why Le Roy may have found it difficult to win again after he won AFCON with Cameroon National team in 1988, Renard seem to be the only one who could demystify the woes surrounding Cote d’Ivoire national team’s under-achievement.

It was clear to everyone that something was amiss. While for the past 10 years or so, Cote d’Ivoire entered its Golden era in football, with most of it’s’ players making waves in some of the top clubs around the world, everyone expected them to dominate Africa.

Cote d’Ivore national team was consecutively ranked 1st in Africa for several months by FIFA World Rankings. Didier Drogba and Yaya Toure had won CAF-African Footballer of the year Award 6 times between them in the last 10 years; with many of the country’s players nominated along side: Gervinho, Wilfred Bony, Solomon Kalu, Kolo Toure… But with all these individual star players, Cote d’Ivoire couldn’t yet win AFCON trophy for 23 years, since 1992.

2015 AFCON looked like the last chance in their Golden era, since some of the great players are already given way. Drogba had retired from the national team and Kalu now sit on the bench. But they needed to break the jinx and they went searching for someone who has the key. Kudos to the FA, for employing Renard for the assignment.

Renard knows how to work out his own miracles for his team. He knows when to strike his magic wand as the journey gets rough or as the game becomes tough.  It was exactly what played out in Equatorial Guinea and he trashed the competition favorite, Algeria, 3 – 1. He looked around and saw only one more bridge to cross.

Ghana was showing so much resilience in their come back game against South Africa; and in the semi finals, they completely overwhelmed the host team, which almost led to a break down of order as fans started rioting. Ghana’s world acclaimed tactician, Avram Grant, was ready to make history as a new arrival in the African expeditionary football job.

The dice was caste and for over 120 minutes of play in the finals, it was still a stalemate. Then came the tension filled penalty shoot out that was going on without end, until Renard stroke his magic wand and turn Cote d’Ivoire into Champions of Africa (Penalties ended 9 – 8 against Ghana).

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