As Saudi Arabia notched one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history by beating Argentina 2-1 on Tuesday, it was another feather in the cap of its manager Herve Renard who has often turned underdogs into winners.
Saudi, the second-lowest ranked team in the tournament after Ghana, stunned the two-time winners and charged at their defence in front of a frenzied 88,012 crowd in a Group C opener in Lusail.
Renard had joined the Green Falcons in 2019 with a wealth of experience. And in the last three years, the national side have moved up from 70th to 51st in the FIFA world rankings. His arrival has given a fresh optimism to Saudi Arabia, who had just three wins in the world cup history before their spectacular win on Tuesday.
A native of France, Renard began his managerial career at SG Draguignan. He later moved to England where he assisted Claude Le Roy, then manager of Cambridge United. In 2004, after Le Roy left for Africa, Renard became the CU manager. He later reached Vietnam to coach Nam Dinh, but within a few months returned to France to lead AS Cherbourg.
His stint at club level produced mixed results, but the 54-year-old Frenchman reaped high dividends with national teams.
He guided two countries to win the Africa Cup of Nations—Zambia in 2012 and Ivory Coast in 2015. In 2016, he became Africa's highest paid manager as he joined the Morocco team. He led Morocco to Russia in 2018, and it was the first time the country was qualified for world cup since 1998.
Saudi Arabia will next meet Poland in a Group C match on November 26.