BATA, Equatorial Guinea (REUTERS) - Herve Renard is patently a hard man to please.
There was no smile from the victorious Ivory Coast coach after a dominant performance from his team that booked them a place in the African Nations Cup final with a 3-1 win over Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Frenchman won the trophy with Zambia three years ago and is on course to lift it again with a powerful squad to become the first coach to claim the Nations Cup with different countries.
But he made clear his discontent with the manner of the triumph over DR Congo in Wednesday’s semi-final, even if the Ivorians were the better, stronger and cleverer team.
“That might be the way you saw it but I didn’t like this game," he told reporters.
“We didn’t do all the things right as we should, maybe at times we didn’t show enough respect to our opponent.
“If the players are not listening they can get caught out,” he added, maintaining his long-standing complaint about the star-studded Ivorians pulling in different directions.
“I was worried that playing a fifth game in this tournament would prove very tough but the most important is that we reached the final. We didn’t have the same level in the two halves and DR Congo were always dangerous on the counter-attack.
“I said to the players at half-time they were not playing like they realised this was a match to get to the final of the Nations Cup. They didn’t show enough determination in the first half like you should in a semi-final. Maybe there weren’t enough spectators to give it the right atmosphere.”
Renard took unheralded Zambia to the 2012 title, beating the Ivorians in the final on penalties.
The 46-year-old Frenchman struggled through his first seven months with the Ivory Coast, who sneaked through the qualifiers and started the tournament in Equatorial Guinea with two draws. But three wins in a row have sent them into the final for a second time in three tournaments. They will play Equatorial Guinea or Ghana in Sunday’s decider.
Editing by Ed Osmond