HERVE Renard wants his Elephants to be hugely motivated and maintain their strong spirit, hard work and focus as they take on Ghana’s Black Stars in today’s final of the 30th Orange Africa Cup of Nations at Estadio de Bata.
The 1992 winners have some stars that have for long been labelled the “golden generation” and 2015 represents the final chance for them to cap that era with championship medals.
Renard has not hesitated to remind them of that and reckons that has helped him mould them into a unit that works hard for one another.
Ivory Coast will be looking for a second title after their first in 1992 which they won after beating Ghana in a marathon penalty-shoot out in Dakar.
The Black Stars haven’t won African football’s prized championship since the last of their four titles 33 years ago in Libya.
But ahead of the final, Renard says his Ivorian squad will be thinking of nothing but a win and believes he has the team unity and spirit to deny Ghana again.
“Today I’m feeling every day the same way and same team spirit that we had with Zambia in 2012. Of course, there’s always a different story with every team in football but I would like to congratulate my players because they have all put in a lot of effort in this AFCON, including the ones people would refer to as the big stars.
They’re performing, they have forgotten their star status and put the team first and I’ve been reminding them that some of them would be coming to the AFCON for the last time and if they don’t win now, they will never do,” Renard said.
“I’ve told them it’s their last chance to win and I think it is motivating them as well. It will be a tough game on Sunday because Ghana is a specialist of the AFCON.
They have played eight finals and this will be their ninth and in 1992, they lost to Cote d’Ivoire. But I can’t think even for one second about failing in the final,” the 2012 winner, who would become the first coach ever to win the Nations Cup with two different nations he told cafonline.com.
He added: “But this is football and anything can happen. But I repeat, we have a strong spirit and that was the first thing I wanted to build into this team the first time I took charge – strong team spirit and I repeat all the time that the most important thing about a squad is the team, not the individual players. So you must build your team because even if you have the big stars and add so many names but don’t play together, you cannot achieve anything.
The best example was Zambia. I’ve heard many times that Zambia won in 2012 because of luck but that is not true. Zambia won because of hard work and excellent team spirit. Zambia is a good football nation and with Chipolopolo we built a very good team spirit. Nobody could beat us and nobody was able stand in our way because we had such fantastic spirit, dedication and hard work,” Renard said.
The Ivorian coach believes the Elephants, who had a shaky start in the so called “group of death”, have steadily progressed throughout the tournament and are in better shape for the final.
“This year’s tournament was special for us because the competition was intense from the start.
The two top teams of Group C and D are contesting the final and it’s not by chance. Not to say that other groups were not good but it’s not by chance that its teams from C and D in the final.
We had a very tough programme and if we win, it’s because we deserve to win it.”
“Ghana has got very good players and a good team but I believe we can do it,” Renard said of the championship fixture match billed by many as the “dream final”.