Herve Renard has an impressive track record. The Frenchman became the first coach to win the Africa Cup of Nations with two different countries - Zambia in 2012 and Ivory Coast in 2015. Angola and Morocco are the other two teams he managed. His success in Africa made Saudi Arabia choose him as its coach after Juan Antonio Pizzi failed to deliver in the 2018 Russia World Cup and the Asian Cup the following year.
Renard made headlines after his fiery speech at half-time against Argentina.
“What are we doing here,” he charged, “Is this our pressing? Pressing does not mean you will go high… (There is) Messi, at the middle of the pitch. He has the ball and you stay in front of the defence. Don’t you know you have to mark him in the middle?
Take your phone and you take a picture with him if you want! If you stay stationary, he will follow. We warned you and now you see what you have done,” he added.
“Don’t you feel we have a chance to come back? Come on guys, come on, this is a World Cup! Give everything! When you are at the edge of the box, you are stationary…..be mobile! Concentrate and be attentive,” Renard exclaimed.
A former defender with AS Cannes and Stade de Vallauris, the 54-year-old started his coaching career as an assistant to Claude Le Roy and managed Cambridge United in 2004 after Le Roy left for Africa.
Renard joined Saudia Arabia in July 2019 after a three-year stint with Morocco.
In his first match, Saudi Arabia played out a breathtaking 2-2 draw against Yemen. In the qualifiers, en route to the Qatar World Cup, he worked hard to find players who would fit his 4-3-3 system.
His regular presence at the Roshn Saudi League matches helped him build the Saudi side with youngsters such as Abdulelah al-Amri, Abdulelah al-Malki, Firas al-Buraikan and Najei. It would work wonders as Renard’s young side topped Group B ahead of Asian giants Japan and Australia.
Under his safe hands, Saudi Arabia will hope to improve upon its last edition’s group stage exit. But, to make it to the Round of 16, the ‘Green Falcons’, slotted in Group C, have to play Lionel Messi’s Argentina, Robert Lewandowski’s Poland or perennial dark horse Mexico.