New Ivory Coast coach Herve Renard said Monday he will make a decision about Didier Drogba’s international playing future after speaking with the veteran striker this month.
The 36-year-old Drogba was mainly used off the bench in Ivory Coast’s last two major tournaments but has made no indication he wants to retire from the national team. Drogba re-joined Premier League club Chelsea last month on a season-long deal.
With Renard’s appointment last week, the Ivorian federation emphasized the need to develop the next generation of players after the team’s disappointing group-stage exit at the World Cup under former coach Sabri Lamouchi.
Renard told reporters on Monday at his first news conference as Ivory Coast coach: “You will know his (Drogba’s) future with the national team” by Aug. 20, when the Frenchman is expected to name his first Ivory Coast squad for the final round of qualifiers for next year’s African Cup.
Renard also said “we need to ask” why Ivory Coast’s so-called golden generation of Drogba, Yaya and Kolo Toure and Didier Zokora hasn’t won a major trophy.
The country still has not added to its lone African Cup victory in 1992 and has not reached the second round of the World Cup in three attempts. Ivory Coast also lost its No. 1 ranking in Africa to Algeria just before the World Cup.
“There are positions that need a change,” Renard said. “They asked me to build a new team. But not everything has to be thrown away.”
“Let me discuss with players. Some might have some wishes. I have to listen to them. After that, I will take my decisions.”
Renard is partly responsible for Ivory Coast’s long wait for a title after he coached Zambia to a penalty-shootout win over the Ivorians in the African Cup final in 2012.
Renard arrived in Abidjan on Friday to take up a four-year contract until after the next World Cup in Russia in 2018. He also confirmed that Patrice Beaumelle, Renard’s assistant coach with Zambia, would become his assistant with Ivory Coast.