Football: Christian Gourcuff and his memories of Algeria
Christian Gourcuff, when he was coach with Algeria. FAROUK BATICHE / AFP
Text by: Farid Achache Follow
Christian Gourcuff, who recently retired, looks back on his career in a book entitled Christian Gourcuff, my quest for the ideal game. The former coach of Algeria recalls for RFI his work with the Fennecs, from August 2014 to April 2016.
Appointed in July 2014 as the new coach of Algeria, Christian Gourcuff succeeded Vahid Halilhodžić, just after the World Cup in Brazil where the Fennecs had experienced a historic eighth final against the Germans, future world champions. The former coach of Lorient stayed two years and lived the CAN 2015 in Equatorial Guinea where the Greens, designated as favorites, left the competition at the quarter-final stage after a defeat against Ivory Coast. "I have good memories of Algeria. I had a good relationship with the players. We had the same sensitivity to football and this team was very interesting," says Christian Gourcuff.
« I really enjoyed Yacine Brahimi"
At the time, the team consisted of Riyad Mahrez, Faouzi Ghoulam, Islam Slimani, Sofiane Feghouli, Yacine Brahimi and Mehdi Lacen. Christian Gourcuff was impressed by the latter two. "I really appreciated Yacine Brahimi. He was technically exceptional. He didn't have the career he should have had. I also discovered Mehdi Lacen. He was at the end of his career and I regret not having known him before. He had incredible intelligence," he says, also referring to a very fresh team, which he had a lot of pleasure to meet.
But everything was not easy for the French technician. "There were a lot of things that distorted the pleasure I had," he laments. It affected our day-to-day work and whenever I didn't like the context, I left. And sometimes to the detriment of my interests. It was not easy, there were political issues that polluted many things. It tired me, we had to stop." In Algeria, football is still an epidermal subject, the pressure is enormous on the shoulders of the coach.
He added: "When I signed in Algeria, apart from the position of coach, I had to help the DTN [national technical director, editor's note] to set up a technical policy, and I was interested in doing it for a country. It was something I really wanted to do. But I ran into political problems. It was difficult.»
An evolved collective game
Adept of the 4-4-2, Christian Gourcuff had to compose and often came up against reality. "The conditions are complicated. We relied on an evolved collective game and we found ourselves in troubles, because sometimes the fields did not allow to do it, he explains. We also sometimes found ourselves facing players who had great athletic qualities. The climatic conditions also counted a lot, and posed problems to develop this collective game. When international matches were held in Blida, there were often scores because we had a decent pitch. »
Except that during the trips away during the qualifiers of the CAN, there were necessarily surprises. "We ended up playing on a stabilized pitch in Lesotho or Malawi. I remember a game in Tanzania where you couldn't even make three passes. We needed a special adaptation," says Christian Gourcuff.
Algeria remains the only experience the former Nantes coach has had as a coach. According to him, it remains a very different job from club work, which requires a different approach. "In a championship, a coach unites above all through his work. To manage a national team, he must also federate by his personality to be very quickly in osmosis with the players, "concludes Christian Gourcuff.
Newsletter Receive all the international news directly in your mailbox
Follow all the international news by downloading the RFI application
Read on on the same topics:
- Africa Foot Interviews
On the same subject
CAN 2024 qualifiers: Algeria qualifies for the final phase in Côte d'Ivoire