The Frenchman, who has taken the Chipolopolo (Copper Bullets) to the quarter-finals of the African Nations Cup for the second time in a row, says he has had to rein in his players’ instincts to rush forward.
“If you left the Zambian players to their own devices, the whole team would just join the attack,” Renard told reporters. “They love to play all the time. So we have to try and keep their style, to stay organised at the same time and use the experience we got in 2010.”
Invariably vibrant and entertaining to watch, Zambia topped Group A thanks to Sunday’s 1-0 win over co-hosts Equatorial Guinea, having begun their campaign with a shock 2-1 win over Senegal.
Renard, who once had a spell with English lower league team Cambridge United, was previously assistant to Claude Le Roy with Ghana and said the World Cup quarter-finalists were on a different level in tactical terms.
“I was lucky to have my chance with Ghana, they are fantastic players. Tactically they are perfect because they all play at the highest level,” he said.
Renard is in his second stint with Zambia, having resigned followed the previous Nations Cup and returned last October following the sacking of Italian Dario Bonetti.
Twice runners-up Zambia had not previously reached the quarter-finals since 1996. Despite their impressive progress, Young Boys striker Emmanuel Mayuka is the only member of their 23-man squad playing for a first-division European club.
Others are based at home, in South Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo, China and the Russian second division.