True story: Ivory Coast sack coach only to find they qualified for last 16

January 26 – Host nation Ivory Coast sacked coach Jean-Louis Gasset, only to discover they had sneaked into last 16 of the African Cup of Nations through the back door.

The Ivorian Football Federation (FIF) terminated the contracts of Gasset and his assistant after their humiliating 4-0 loss to Equatorial Guinea.

It was the heaviest defeat ever suffered by an AFCON host and left the Ivorians third in Group A. But 48 hours later they qualified as one of the best third-placed teams thanks to Morocco’s victory over Zambia.

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

According to several reports, the Ivory Coast FA tried to land former coach Herve Renard “on loan” from the French women’s team for the rest of the tournament.

Renard led Ivory Coast to the title in 2015 and they were keen to bring him back. But talks with the French federation over a possible deal broke down without agreement.

“The negotiations did not finish favourably, ” Renard told broadcaster Canal Plus. “I’d have loved it but fate chose otherwise.”

Faé will therefore stay in charge for the last-16 game against defending champion Senegal on Monday.

Gasset took over as coach in May 2022 and won 10 of 17 matches in charge. They started well as hosts against Guinea Bissau but were stymied by a strong Nigerian defence and fell apart against Equatorial Guinea in what Gasset said afterwards had been a nightmare.

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