Hervé Renard took charge of Saudi Arabia in September 2019, leading the country to a successive World Cup after dominating a qualifying group containing Australia and Japan.
However, while Renard acknowledges that he is being generously reimbursed for his time as Saudi Arabia manager, his main ambition is to succeed with the Asian nation.
Talk to FourFourTwo in the latest issue available to order, Renard insists he didn’t take the national team role for the money.
“From Europe, from my country France, it’s always the same negative comments: ‘Ah, you’re going to Saudi Arabia to take the money'”, he declared. FourFourTwoshaking his head.
“Yes, I have very well [financial] conditions, but that’s not what matters to me.
“If you have incredible conditions but you don’t win games and you only stay three months, what’s the point? You go to a country because you think you can achieve something – that’s what we did and now we have to keep going and looking forward, to always be positive and confident when we’re in Qatar.
Indeed, the Frenchman is a successful international coach, having led Zambia to victory in the Africa Cup of Nations in 2012, beating Ivory Coast in the final. After a stint at Sochaux in his home country, Renard returned to Africa to lead the Ivory Coast – winning the AFCON with the nation in 2015, three years after winning with Zambia.
Renard also managed Morocco and Angola at international level, while at club level he offered his services to the aforementioned Lille, Sochaux and Cherbourg, all in France. Curiously, Renard also had a spell at Cambridge United in 2004.
In Saudi Arabia’s previous five World Cup appearances, they only managed to qualify for the knockout stages once. This happened in 1994 during the USA World Cup, and since then they have crashed out every time in the group stages.
In order to qualify for the Round of 16 of the 2022 World Cup, Saudi Arabia will have to go through a group containing Argentina, Mexico and Poland, making it a difficult but not insurmountable task for perhaps finish second and sneak.