Mastermind of Saudi Arabia’s World Cup giantkilling of Argentina leaves for plum women’s job

Herve Renard has resigned as Saudi Arabia coach so he can take over the France team ahead of this year’s Women’s World Cup, the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) said on Tuesday.

The 54-year-old Frenchman was appointed as coach of Saudi Arabia in July 2019 and led the country to a famous 2-1 win over eventual winners Argentina at the World Cup in Qatar last year.

SAFF said in a statement on Twitter that it had agreed to terminate Renard’s contract at his request, adding that it wished him “every success in his future career”.

“(Renard) has an offer from the French federation and expressed his desire to take this opportunity,” SAFF President Yasser Al-Misehal told Saudi Sports Channel (SSC).

“We were informed four days before the current international window and I received a letter from the French Federation, and consulted with a number of members of the board of directors, and we decided to accept this request.”

The French Football Federation (FFF) sacked Corinne Diacre earlier this month after captain Wendie Renard said she would not play at the World Cup if the coach remained in charge.

Ranked fifth in the world, France will be looking to win a first World Cup at this year’s showpiece, which is being co-hosted by New Zealand and Australia from July 20-Aug. 20.

Renard said after a 2-1 friendly loss to Bolivia in Jeddah on Tuesday that he felt he had taken the Green Falcons as far as he could.

Herve Renard guided Saudi Arabia to one of the greatest footballing days in their history (AFP via Getty Images)
Herve Renard guided Saudi Arabia to one of the greatest footballing days in their history (AFP via Getty Images)

“I would like to thank everybody in Saudi for their support during almost four years,” he told reporters. “I think I did the maximum with the team. I can’t reach another level so I prefer to be honest with everybody. Thank you again, it was a fantastic time.”

Al-Misehal said SAFF would take their time in appointing a new coach and would not announce a successor to Renard until June at least as their next match is in September.

“We won’t choose the successor until June,” he explained. “The Saudi national team is an ambitious and great team and we will certainly be coveted by many distinguished coaches.”

The Saudis will be looking to win a fourth Asian Cup title at the continental championship in Qatar early next year.

Although Renard will now turn his focus to coaching women for the first time, he made it clear he would not forget his time in Saudi Arabia.

“I wish you success in the 2024 Asian Cup in Qatar. I will support you, and certainly if I could be present in the stands, I would be a fan of the Saudi national team,” he said in his farewell video. “You will always remain in my heart.”