Saturday, February 24, 2024

AFCON Coaches Casualty List Growing: Cote d’Ivoire Fires Jean-Louis Gasset

Africa Cup of Nations hosts Ivory Coast fired coach Jean-Louis Gasset on Wednesday after their humiliating loss to Equatorial Guinea, which left them unsure of whether they will qualify for the next round, the country’s football federation said.

The 4-0 loss to the small central African country on Monday was the heaviest defeat suffered by a Cup of Nations host and left the Ivorians third in Group A, waiting to see whether they might qualify as one of four best third-placed finishers.

A statement said the 70-year-old Gasset was fired for “insufficient results” and would be replaced by Emerse Fae as interim coach.

Ivory Coast will know their fate later on Wednesday when the last group matches are completed, but are dependent on other results going their way after collecting only three points in their Group A matches, beating Guinea Bissau in the opening game but then losing to Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea.

Gasset took over as coach in May 2022 and won 10 of 17 matches in charge, with three draws and four defeats.

He had shaken up the team ahead of the finals, leaving out Eric Bailly and Wilfred Zaha for the tournament, where there was a burden of expectation on the hosts.

They started well against Guinea Bissau with a goal in the first five minutes but were stymied by a strong Nigerian defence and fell apart against Equatorial Guinea in what Gasset said afterwards had been a nightmare.

“In life, there are sometimes matches that turn into nightmares, matches where everything seems linked. We call this the disaster scenario,” he said.

He added he could not fathom what went wrong.

“This is a difficult question. What went wrong with the players? I don’t think is their state of mind. When I see players crying in the locker room, it hurts me. The players tried. I think we’ve tried everything,” he said.

“When you have a scenario like this, which borders on a nightmare, there is not much to say or do.”

It was the Frenchman’s first job as a national team coach, although he served as Laurent Blanc’s assistant for two years with the French national side after the 2010 World Cup.

Most of Gasset’s coaching career has been spent in the French league with Montpellier, Saint Etienne and Girondins Bordeaux. He also had two separate spells on the coaching staff at Paris St Germain.

He is the fourth managerial casualty in less than 24 hours at the tournament.

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