Football

Herve Renard – the man who masterminded Saudi Arabia’s 2-1 World Cup upset over Argentina! 

Saudi Arabia achieved one of the greatest World Cup shocks of all time on Tuesday when they beat Argentina 2-1 in Qatar.

Lionel Messi had given his country an early lead from the spot, before Argentina then had three goals ruled out for offside in the first half – with two Lautaro Martinez strikes and one Messi finish disallowed.

Many expected one of the tournament favourites to romp home to a comfortable victory in the second half but Saudi Arabia then produced a stunning comeback thanks to goals from Saleh Al Shehri & Salem Al Dawsari to secure a memorable win.

The victory was masterminded by Herve Renard, the 54-year-old Frenchman, who’s 23-year managerial career has encompassed six stints as an international manager and seven different clubs – including a spell at Cambridge United. 

Saudi Arabia secured a memorable World Cup win over Argentina on Tuesday in Qatar

The historic World Cup upset was masterminded by Saudi Arabia coach Herve Renard

The historic World Cup upset was masterminded by Saudi Arabia coach Herve Renard

In fact, it will be 18 years next month since Renard was dismissed by at-the-time League Two Cambridge United, having won just four of his 25 games in charge to leave the Us second bottom of the Football League. 

Sportsmail takes a deep dive into the background of the man behind one of the greatest-ever World Cup shocks? 

Renard’s time in England’s fourth tier was his second managerial role after a stint with French side SC Draguignan.

This followed a 15-year playing career that kept him in the Côte D’Azur throughout, representing Cannes, Stade de Vallauris and SC Draguignan.

He began his managerial career at his final club, to start one of the most unique managerial journeys you have ever heard of, which culminated in Tuesday’s historic result.

Back-to-back promotions with SC Draguignan saw the Frenchman garner attention for his proactive style of management and it wasn’t long before his situation improved. 

Renard had a spell as Cambridge United boss but was sacked after winning four of 25 games

Renard had a spell as Cambridge United boss but was sacked after winning four of 25 games

Renard was approached by at-the-time Strasbourg boss Claude LeRoy, the legendary manager of several African teams. 

Le Roy, 74, has enjoyed stints with Cameroon (twice), Senegal, DR Congo (twice), Ghana, Congo and Togo during his 42-year coaching career, while he has also managed Malaysia, Syria, Oman and Malaysia Under-23. 

Renard chose to leave his former playing side to join the veteran as his assistant boss and together they jetted off to China to join Shanghai Costco.

This was a huge opportunity for Renard and one that he could learn a lot from. Though LeRoy was managing Strasbourg – a division two side – when he approached Renard, his managerial resume was already rather impressive.

Renard has enjoyed a nomadic managerial career that has included five different national teams

Renard has enjoyed a nomadic managerial career that has included five different national teams

Despite early optimism, the duo’s stint at Shanghai Cosco lasted less than a year and shortly after they were persuaded to jet back to Europe and take charge of Cambridge United, before Renard replaced Le Roy just a few games into his tenure.

After leaving Cambridge –  Renard followed in LeRoy’s footsteps and went to manage an African national team. In this case, it was Zambia.

He took charge of the Chipolopolo in 2008 and in the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations, he led Zambia to the quarter final stage of the tournament for the first time in 14 years – a marker for things to come. 

Renard then chose to walk away from the Zambian national team and took charge of Angola. But after a short-lived stint there, he returned to Zambia in 2011 and delivered the country’s first ever AFCON success just a year later. 

But elimination in the group stage at the same tournament in 2013 saw tensions rise between Renard and the Football Association of Zambia – culminating in his contract being terminated, despite his success previously.

He is the only manager in history to win the African Cup of Nations twice with different sides

He is the only manager in history to win the African Cup of Nations twice with different sides 

This would a costly mistake from the Zambian football authorities, as just a year later – in 2014 – he was appointed manager of Ivory Coast. Renard made it a running theme of instant success as he delivered another AFCON title with the Ivorians in 2015.

In doing so, Renard became the first manager in football history to win the African Cup of Nations twice but with two different national sides – an achievement that is yet to be replicated.

After such unrivalled success in the continent, Renard decided that he would ply his trade elsewhere and returned to France to take charge of Ligue 1 side Lille – but was dismissed after getting only 13 points in 13 league games.

After a disappointing spell as Morocco head coach – which saw the north African side be eliminated in the 2018 World Cup group stages – Renard joined the ‘Green Falcons’ in 2019.

Since his appointment, the national side have moved up from 70th to 51st in the FIFA world rankings and topped their recent World Cup qualifying group that included Japan and Australia.

After that success, the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) announced that Renard had signed an extension to his current deal through until 2027. 

Renard, who also counts Nam Dinh, As Cherbourg, USM Alger and Sochaux among his former clubs, has won 17 out of his 32 games in charge of Saudi Arabia. 

Under his guidance, Saudi Arabia have risen from 70th to 51st in the FIFA World Rankings

Under his guidance, Saudi Arabia have risen from 70th to 51st in the FIFA World Rankings 

Ahead of the Argentina clash, Renard had spoken about the challenge facing his side in Qatar, despite the impressive progressive the team has made under his tutelage.

He said: ‘Supporters aren’t always realistic and, in some minds, if we don’t go through to the next round, it’s a failure.

‘It’s our dream to qualify from the group but Argentina, Mexico and Poland, the group opponents, are above us.’

Renard can now dare to dream after Tuesday’s spectacular result. 


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