Little was known about French coach Herve Renard until he took charge of Zambia and led them to win their first-ever Nations Cup title in 2012 during the finals co-hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.
It was a fairly tale run for the Chipolopolos in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea and it hadn’t been easy sailing because after a poor first six months in charge of Zambia, fortunes changed for the Frenchman’s side when they went on to win bronze during the inaugural African Nations Championship (CHAN) hosted by Cote d’Ivoire in 2009 where they beat Senegal 2-1 in a third place play-off.
His first Nations Cup finals appearance was with Zambia in 2010 in Angola in which they bowed out after the group stages.
Fans across Africa started noticing a rarity on the French when he kept wearing the same white short and a pair of jeans at each of their games.
After failing to retain the trophy with the Chipolopolos in 2013, the Frenchman was engaged by Cote d’Ivoire and he led the Elephants to their second title in 23 years 2015 during the tournament hosted by Equatorial Guinea.
Then Morocco football federation, after assessing that it was not just luck following the Frenchman, they appointed him in 2016 in the drive to restore the Atlas Lions’ lost glory.
The Moroccans’ gamble worked because he led the Atlas Lions to qualify first for the 2017 Nations Cup and he has gone on to help the North Africans to qualify for the 2018 World Cup after 23 years in the wilderness. What a record!
Renard is no stranger to African football. His stint with Zambia was his first as head coach — before that he was Ghana’s physical trainer during the 2008 edition which the Black Stars hosted.
Before coming to Africa to assist Ghana, he had been coaching English team Cambridge United. He also coached French side SC Draguignan for 10 years and was at AS Cherbourg from 2005 to 2007 before moving to Chinese club Shanghai Cosco.
He is someone with quite a good resume. When Renard’s achievement with Zambia, Cote d’Ivoire and Morocco was posted on social media, some Malawian fans were suggesting that maybe that’s the type of coach the Flames need but others quickly pointed out that it would be suicidal for Renard to come and coach Malawi.
Why? — the pessimists said the Frenchman would just contaminate his good record because the Flames are not just good enough as opposed to the African sides he has led.
There might be some truth to it only if Malawi was to rope in Renard and leave him to his job without being given the right resources to work with.
I am quite sure that in Zambia, Cote d’Ivoire and Morocco, Renard was given everything he needed for him to have an excellent working environment and he had quite an array of experienced players at his disposal who are constantly participating in the continental club championship.
Not with Malawi. Our players lack the international experience where they can be exposed starting with the CAF club championship because of lack of funding. Our participation at international junior level is haphazard because of the same lack of funding.
We only have one stadia that is of high standard — the new national stadium in Lilongwe. The rest are not even suitable for youngsters to display their skills on.
We’ve have excellent players in the past but we failed to qualify for the Nations Cup at the last hurdle and even when CAF decided to introduce the CHAN tournament meant specifically for domestic league players, the Flames have failed to qualify.
Our problems in football are deep rooted and we need to look into them deeply and solve so that we can afford to invite top notch coaches to assist us.
The Flames coach, RVG, is very little known just like Renard was before he was engaged by the Zambians. RVG cannot succeed with the type of environment he is in. In my opinion, RVG is here just to build on his resume in the hope of being engaged by serious bidders on the continent.
We have a lot to do for our football from the grassroots to the top before we can think of considering engaging coaches of Renard’s calibre. Give RVG time enough to help us build a strong foundation and he should always be part of every junior stage of the national team for him to select players for the future.
Meanwhile, there is just the need to invest into football by giving it the right resources and infrastructure.
Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :