Her traditional white shirt was not out for her official debut at the head of the women's France team. Hervé Renard, inducted coach of Les Bleues on Thursday, unveiled Friday, March 31 his first list before holding a press conference.
Arrived in a difficult context, after the revolt of the stars Wendie Renard – with whom he has no family – Kadidiatou Diani and Marie-Antoinette Katoto having led to the ouster of the former coach Corinne Diacre, he did not avoid the controversial subjects, true to his reputation. Nor was he afraid to flaunt his ambitions.
1. Bold goals
In a little less than four months, Hervé Renard and Les Bleues will be in Australia and New Zealand for the World Cup. Despite a very short time to take the group France hand, Hervé Renard shows ambition hoping to break the glass ceiling of the Blues, who have stopped for several editions in the quarterfinals.
"We must at least reach the last four during the World Cup and during the Olympics," he said, not forgetting the Paris Games that will arrive very quickly, less than a year after the World Cup. "I was also politely told, 'If you have the opportunity to win, don't deprive yourself.' I said I came for that."
"We can achieve great things in football if we are united and have a remarkable state of mind," warned Hervé Renard, who also praised the quality of the group at his disposal.
2. "What matters is the present and the future"
"What happened before, I was not there, it does not concern me," quickly dismissed Hervé Renard. "We can pay tribute to Corinne Diacre, who achieved very good results. But it is a page that is turning, it must be as positive as possible."
The double African champion (Zambia in 2012 and Ivory Coast in 2015) was determined to write very quickly the new history of Les Bleues and finally blacken the lines of the palmares: "I focus on the present and the future."
>> Read also: Hervé Renard, globe-trotter of football, puts his suitcases at the Blues
Vis-à-vis the rebels, these players who caused the departure of Corinne Diacre, Hervé Renard adopted a pragmatic attitude: "The Federation gave me a list of preselected players including all the players, I felt that the Federation gave me the green light."
3. Messy returns
This was one of the biggest questions on Hervé Renard's list. Would Wendy Renard be in the game, a month after launching the sling against former coach Corinne Diacre and announcing her "withdrawal"? The answer is yes. The former coach of Morocco is counting on the captain of Les Bleues, even if he has not indicated if he will leave her the armband.
Absent since April 2021 against a backdrop of conflict with Corinne Diacre, her teammate at OL, Eugenie Le Sommer, is also part of the first list. The top scorer in the history of the France team – men and women combined – will have the opportunity to improve her record.
"She has an incomparable experience. When we win eight Champions Leagues, we have performed at the highest level," praised the coach. "The competition is tough in Lyon, but [Eugenie Le Sommer] is able to evolve in other registers and be a luxury joker over short periods. I find her very smart in the game. It was a pleasure to talk to her and I look forward to seeing her in action. As they say, 'welcome back'."
Another Lyonnaise is back: Amel Majri (66 caps) finds a France group she has not attended since September 2021. A serious knee injury and a period of maternity leave kept her away from the Blues.
Like Eugenie Le Sommer, Amel Majri is back in the women's France team. 🇫🇷
A nice comeback for the first player of Les Bleues to have given birth to a child during her career. 👏🏻 pic.twitter.com/FKit63cBMi
— Footballers (@foo_teuses) March 31, 2023
At 29 years old, Léa Le Garrec, midfielder and captain of Fleury, will also have a new chance in the selection, more than five years after his last cap.
"She has the qualities, but in France team, it's something else. It has to show what it can do. I think she has a card to play in this group. I think it's important to give her a chance, it's up to her to seize it," explained Hervé Renard.
4. Listening to the injured
Proof that all is forgiven for the rebels, Hervé Renard said repeatedly that Kadidiatou Diani, Marie-Antoinette Katoto and the defender Griedge Mbock, associated with the rebellion movement against Deacon, would have had their place in the list if they were not injured.
The first broke her collarbone in Wolfsburg, during the elimination of Paris SG in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. The second is recovering from a ruptured ligament in her right knee and a fissure in her meniscus. The third is also recovering from a knee injury.
"I mainly called the injured who will not be on the list. I think it's important to show them that I consider them and let them know that I'm waiting for them to come back. For those who will be on the list, there is no need for a phone call. I will see them," said Hervé Renard, who hopes they will be handed over in time for the World Cup.
The coach also keeps the link with Amandine Henry, another banished from the Deacon era, currently on the flank: "I wanted to see how she was, her state of mind, even if currently, she is injured. I was reassured on this point. She is in the process of returning. She is one of the players likely to be shortlisted for this World Cup."
5. An essential staff
The new boss of Les Bleues has officially inducted his staff for the upcoming deadlines. He arrived with Laurent Bonadéi and David Ducci, relatives who accompanied him to Saudi Arabia.
To compensate for his inexperience in women's football, he will be able to count on Eric Blahic, who knows the Blues for having been Corinne Diacre's assistant between January 2020 and June 2021, and Gilles Fouache, coach of the French goalkeepers since 2018, kept for his skills praised by the players. Not a bad thing, the coach having skinned a few names when listing even if he prides himself on "following the major competitions" since 2014.
🔴 Hervé Renard announces an expanded technical staff for Les Bleues.
👉 Laurent Bonadéi (assistant) Éric Blahic (assistant) David Ducci (assistant) Gilles Fouache (goalkeeper coach) Thomas Pavillon (physical trainer)
👉 + a physical trainer. pic.twitter.com/c8AQpxN6Sq
— Footballers (@foo_teuses) March 31, 2023
Thomas Pavillon, who was previously with the U23 women's France team, will take charge of the physical preparation, and will be joined by an assistant.
"All staff members are of paramount importance for everything to work as smoothly as possible," explained Hervé Renard, who highlighted Blahic's enormous contribution when composing his first list.
6. No Kheira Hamraoui
"I could make a political answer... I wasn't there, I was in Saudi Arabia, so I didn't follow the case... But that's not true, I'm not shying away," Renard said of Kheira Hamraoui's absence from the list.
The incredible case of the aggression of the midfielder in November 2021 continues to leave traces in the dressing room of the Blues. Hamraoui has indeed alienated Kadidiatou Diani and Marie-Antoinette Katoto, relatives of Aminata Diallo, suspected of having ordered the attack and indicted in this case. If Hervé Renard relies more on Katoto and Diani than Hamraoui, he defends a choice above all "sporting".
"Afterwards, when you form a group, there are plenty of elements to take into consideration...", he concedes about the thorny case. You have to refine your choices and give a list, it is without Kheira today."
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