Frenchman Herve Renard was named coach of Ivory Coast national team on Thursday, succeeding fellow countryman SabriLamouchi, who bowed out of the outfit after they failed to progress from the group stage at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Renard, 45, was selected from a three-man shortlist which also included former Sporting and Benfica coach Jose Manuel De Jesus from Portugal and Frederic Antonetti, who formerly coached French side Rennes.
The former defender, who led Zambia to victory against Ivory Coast at the 2012 Africa Cup of Nation in Gabon, has been tasked with qualifying the Elephants to the upcoming 2015 Afcon in Morocco.
Many locals and editorialists had rooted for Ivorian Francois Zahoui, whose application was kicked out in the first phase of screening along with 32 other candidates who applied for the job.
“Zahoui was the clear choice of many Ivorians because he had a wonderful run at the 2012 Afcon,” Serge Kanga, editor-in-chief of sports daily Fanon told supersport.com.
“They have just brought in another foreign hand, who has been given objective to win titles. But what we really need is the development of our grassroots football and Zahoui was the best person because he knows the land in and out,” he said.
The FA president said Renard had the best project and salary proposal and that it was the best choice for the team.
Renard will face the challenge of reconditioning a waning team with aging players, a critical media and local fans, who are increasingly despondent about the future of their national team.
Renard signed a two-year contract which could be renewed depending on his performance, according to the Ivorian FA president Augustin Sidy Diallo.