'I know the PSL very well‚' says Morocco coach Renard ahead of Bafana clash
Hervé Renard has a lot of respect for Bafana Bafana‚ because he follows the Premier Soccer League (PSL) and knows that there are good players there‚ the Morocco's coach has said.
Morocco laboured to an unconvincing 1-0 win against Namibia‚ thanks to an own goal by substitute Itamunua Keimuine‚ in Sunday's opening Group D game played at a sluggish pace in searing heat at Cairo's Al Salam Stadium.
Bafana meet Ivory Coast in the second Group D fixture at the same venue‚ and both teams are likely to also struggle to play at any tempo at the same kickoff time‚ 4.30pm‚ when temperatures are still in the high 30 degrees Celsius.
Twice Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) winner Renard woulkd have been relieved at his team's last-gasp win against Namibia.
He believes both Ivory Coast‚ on Friday‚ and South Africa‚ on Monday‚ will be tough opposition for Morocco.
Ivory Coast have a point to prove against their former coach.
Since Renard left the Elephants after guiding them to winning the 2015 Afcon title in Equatorial Guinea‚ and joined Morocco‚ the Atlas Lions have played the West Africans three times in huge fixtures.
Morocco qualified for the 2018 World Cup at Ivory Coast's expense‚ drawing 0-0 at home then winning 2-0 in Abidjan.
At the 2017 Afcon finals in Gabon Morocco won 1-0 against Renard's former team to progress to the quarterfinals‚ knocking Ivory Coast out in the group stage.
"It will be a very interesting game [against South Africa]. It reminds me of the Cosafa Cup sometimes‚" Renard said‚ asked to appraise Morocco's remaining two opponents.
"We used to play this cup against South Africa. So we know each other very well.
"I'm sure it will be difficult for us against South Africa and Ivory Coast.
"Since I have left Ivory Coast we [Morocco] have played them three times already. It's a lot.
"We played them In the Afcon in 2017. We played them at home [in the World Cup] in 2016 - 0-0‚ it was not a good game for us. And we got our qualification for the World Cup winning in Abidjan.
"Once again they are waiting for us. We have to be ready.
"And South Africa - I have a lot of respect for this team‚ like I have a lot of respect for Namibia. Because I know the PSL very well. There are a lot of very good players. They have a good coach [Stuart Baxter]‚ so it will be a tough game."
Renard has often been linked to the Bafana job‚ but a move to South Africa for the Frenchman‚ who also won the 2012 Afcon with Zambia‚ has never materialised.
South Africa‚ after playing Ivory Coast‚ meet Namibia at Al Salam Stadium on Friday.