|Zambia & Renard-a love affair rekindled|
The Coach is wearing grey shorts and a yellow and white combination top as he paces the side line in Kaduna with all intensity and a scowl on his face. But he does look confident and certainly comfortable as he leads the Chipolopolo through their warm up routine.
Its like if he has been here before and for those of us saying “de ja vu” it certainly is; because the last time we saw this Zambian Coach it was against the same Nigeria only in Angola.
Two things happen to European Coaches in Africa. They either wilt or blossom but they are never so so because that term simply does not exist here. From the very moment Herve Renard became Assistant Coach to Claude Le Roy for the Black Stars most pundits agreed Renard would blossom.
A mere three years later after helping Ghana regain her eroded respect as a Four time Afcon Champion, he would lead Zambia - where he was now Head Coach - at the 2010 Afcon, to the quarter final stage of the tournament for the first time in 14 years.
Things would fall apart though because in early April 2010 with only two months remaining on his contract Renard would inexplicably quit. More amazingly and to a shock of many he would take over the helms for Angola within 48 hours. But that too would not last because within six months that marriage would be over and the Angolans would replace him with Zeca Amaral.
On January 21, 2011, Renard reached an agreement with Algerian club USM Alger to become their head coach of the club. However to many this was just considered to be making the best of a bad situation and following the dismissal of coach Dario Bonetti on 10 October 2011, the Football Association of Zambia offered him his old job back. 12 days later after all differences had been ironed out and to the elation of Zambian fans it was announced that he would return for a second stint as coach of Zambia on a one-year contract.
He will be the first to admit that things are not as he left them. In Nigeria he tells SuperSport before the game “This is the team I left. I am happy everybody is here but this is not the way some of them were playing before I left. We need to work hard and the players need to have fitness” The ultimate diplomat and Manager he refused to name names when pressed. What he did tell SuperSport was that “The result was not so important. The most important thing for us was to see all the players and know what they can do. It is my first game and I am happy that I have seen all the players".
He certainly did explore his options using as many as six substitutes against the Eagles. Isaac Chansa, Clifford Mulenga, James Chamanga, Davies Nkausu, Given Singuluma and Noah Chivuta all saw action. However while the “copper bullets” often took the Nigerian defence apart her Strikers failed to click and when they did once or twice they could not get past Enyema who was in spectacular form.
There is no doubt that all of Zambia if not all of Southern Africa will be rooting for the Chipolopolo and praying that they will go far into the competition. Their hopes should be boosted by the Coaches last words to us which were......
"We know what we need to do”.
|Last Updated ( Friday, 25 November 2011 12:10 )|