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Soccer: Ivory Coast name "big catch" Wilmots as coach
March 21, 2017 / 4:36 PM / 6 months ago

Soccer: Ivory Coast name "big catch" Wilmots as coach

Football Soccer - Wales v Belgium - EURO 2016 - Quarter Final - Stade Pierre-Mauroy, Lille, France - 1/7/16 Belgium head coach Marc Wilmots REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol Livepic

ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Ivory Coast named Marc Wilmots as their new coach on Tuesday, describing the former Belgium boss as a “big catch.”

The 48-year-old, who was sacked by Belgium in July after failing to take their highly-rated team beyond the Euro 2016 quarter-finals, has replaced Frenchman Michel Dussuyer.

“The appointment of Marc Wilmots is a big catch for the Ivorian Football Federation (FIF) which, despite the modesty of its resources, has managed to hire this world-renowned coach,” said the country’s FA in a statement.

It said Wilmots, who had signed a two-year contract, had been “seduced by the federation’s sporting project.”

The former international midfielder became the tenth coach in the last 10 years to lead the team known as the Elephants who, like his Belgian side, have a reputation for under-achieving, despite winning the African Nations Cup in 2015.

Previous coaches include German Uli Stielike, Frenchmen Gerard Gili, Sabri Lamouchi, Herve Renard and Dussuyer, Bosnian Vahid Halilhodzic, Swede Sven-Goran Eriksson and Ivorians Georges Kouadio and Francois Zahoui.

Dussuyer resigned after his side were knocked out in the group stage in this year’s Nations Cup in Gabon.

However, they are well-placed in the World Cup qualifiers, leading African group C with four points from two games.

Wilmots took Belgium to the quarter-finals of the last World Cup and to the top of FIFA’s world rankings with a team built around Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and Manchester City pair Vincent Kompany and Kevin De Bruyne.

Yet a clueless and disjointed 3-1 defeat to Wales in the Euro 2016 quarter-final left critics calling for Wilmots’ head and Belgian fans wondering what happened to the team that many had hoped would deliver the country’s first major trophy.

Reporting by Brian Homewood; Editing by Ian Chadband

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