Renard will be seeking his third Nations Cup title.
When the conversation with Herve Renard on his incredible history with the Africa Cup of Nations turns to Ghana, his face lights up with a wide grin.
It was with the Black Stars in 2007 that the Frenchman took his first steps into Nations Cup history with Claude Le Roy as the pair bid to win Ghana a first title since 1982. They failed of course but since then Renard has gone on to win two and become the most sought after international coach on the continent.
“It will be my sixth nations cup already since I arrived in Ghana”, he told TV3 NETWORK. “In 2008, it was a fantastic experience. It was my first step in Africa and the atmosphere was amazing. It is one of my best memories. After, there are the two finals. When the final whistle goes and you win the trophy, it is amazenard would be hoping to experience that amazing feeling with Morocco in Ging. You can’t imagine the feeling.”
Rabon but he knows his work will be cut out. He has also mauled the idea that one day he could bring back the glory years to Ghana but reckons for anything to change with the Black Stars, they may need to change a few things.
But even he is baffled by why Ghana has struggled with getting past their Nations Cup barrier. In 2008, Renard and his boss Claude Le Roy were undone by Morocco. Ghana went on to reach 2010 final where they were beaten by Egypt. In 2012, the Black Stars went all the way to the semi-final where they were beaten by Renard’s Zambia before Renard’s Ivory Coast beat the Black Stars in 2015 despite going down 0-2 in the final.
“It is missing something but it is not a big thing”, he says of Ghana’s struggled. “It is difficult to judge from the outside but Ghana always has big potential, always with good players. Now the team is very different but at every Afcon, there is a chance for Ghana who normally are in the last four. Maybe they have to believe in themselves a bit more and be a bit lucky.”
So could he be the man who brings that element of luck, that something small? “In life, we never know what can happen. I will never refuse an offer from the Ghana federation depending on the timing, of course. When you are under contract it is not possible. But one day it will be nice for me. I will never forget that it was where I started. I learnt a lot with Le Roy there. I don’t think even if I won the Africa Cup of Nations twice, I had a better team than the Ghana team of 2008. This team was fantastic. When I first saw Essien, Muntari, I was impressed because they were fantastic. We were unlucky. Even now I remember everything in the semi-finals and how Cameroon scored.”
In Gabon, Renard will be seeking his third Nations Cup title. He is unbeaten in 15 Nations Cup games stretching back to 2012 when he took Zambia to the title but understands winning with Morocco will be a special challenge. The Atlas Lions seem to struggle at the Nations Cup but Renard is hoping the players will understand what doing well in the competition will mean to their individual careers and reputation.
He says: “We are not the favourites but we have the potential. I have always told the players; think about the fact it is your last afcon and if you never achieve anything with your national team, something significant with the national team, something will be missing from your career. It doesn’t matter what you win at club level; you have to give everything for the national team because of it something special.”
He will become something even more special in Nations Cup history if he pulls off another triumph in Gabon.