In a season when a Frenchman struck to guarantee Celtic the treble treble, one of his compatriots is looking to play his part in a notable double treble.
With the France men’s team already on top of the world, the female counterparts have made a bold start in their bid to join them as World Cup champions, while Frenchman Herve Renard is hoping to make it a triumphant triumvirate by becoming the Africa Cup of Nations winning manager.
If he succeeds, he will also become the first manager to have won the prestigious tournament with three different nations.
The former Cambridge United boss, who captured the imagination of many at Abbey Stadium with his physical and dietary diligence, has moved on to bigger things, leaving club football behind a long time ago and focusing on the international scene, specifically African nations.
He captured the attention of many spectators at last year’s World Cup, thanks in part to his flowing dirty, blond hair, golden tan and chiseled jaw. The style and suaveness was evidently French but the tan came courtesy of another continent. One he now calls home.
Utilising that blend has aided his success and the current Morocco coach believes the Africa Cup of Nations can prosper in the same way.
For the first time the tournament – which has expanded from 16 entries to 24 this year – will also be staged at a time to suit football around the globe but, most pertinently, Europe, where so many of the participating nations’ star players earn their trade.
“I think both decisions are good for football in Africa. To play in June is much better, even if we could have problems with weather in some parts of Africa. But in terms of relationships with clubs in Europe or anywhere around the world, it is very important because things got complicated previously.”
Club v country rows sullied past stagings of the competitions, with players often taking the decision to step away from international football as a consequence rather than risk their club careers.
As someone with a foot in both camps, Renard wants to see Africa put it’s best foot forward and with a gap in domestic competition, and an expected boost to television viewing figures worldwide, he believes this, the 32nd staging of the cup, could be the most significant yet.
“This will be my seventh tournament,” said the man who has previously won with Zambia in 2012 and Ivory Coast in 2015. “In terms of the image of Africa, this continent needs to improve because all around the world these days they can watch the tournament.
“This is a key tournament for our football – and I say our football because I consider I am part of Africa too. I have been on this continent for so many years now and sometimes I don’t like the image we give to everybody so if we want more positive comments about us to come from other parts of the world then we need to improve.”