Morocco coach Herve Renard is happy to return to his former base Ivory Coast whose national team the Frenchman led to triumph at the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea.
The 49-year former defender was addressing the press in Abidjan ahead of his side’s clash with the Elephants on Saturday in the final matchday of the 2018 Fifa World Cup qualifying.
“Returning to Ivory Coast was interesting and also emotional. We had wonderful moments together and the memories are still very fresh and warm. I am happy to be back,” Renard said on Friday.
Widely regarded as crucial, the meeting between Ivory Coast and Morocco is rather seen by Renard as a usual football match to be played by two top teams.
“Although it’s an important match that can define the career of any national team coach, I personally see it as normal, with nothing too special about it. We will just go out there and play football – normal football,” he said.
Renard confirmed suggestions that they would be playing as a bloc against the Ivory Coast and not rely on individual exploits. Since the appointment of the former Zambia coach, the Moroccan government has invested hugely in the team and now is time to pay back his bosses, according to him.
“I have been enjoying a very good working condition in Morocco. The government and the officials have spent a lot in the team since my arrival. I would like to pay them back by finishing off the work I started a while ago.
“I have been watching the Ivorian team play, like I watched Gabon and Mali and so I can tell you that I know the opposition I will be facing on Saturday. All my 25 players are very fit for the game and we would have support despite playing away because Moroccan fans will be coming from Rabat, Casablanca, Marrakech, etc, to cheer us up,” he said.
Asked if he sees their one-point lead at the summit of Group C as an advantage, Renard crossed his fingers and declared.
“I can say we are close to sealing qualification to Russia 2018 but at same time still very far.”