Women's Football World Cup: Amandine Henry recalled by Hervé Renard to Les Bleues, who are banking on experience for the World Cup

When leading a selection, the collective interest is the guiding thread that must dictate your choices

Women's Football World Cup: Amandine Henry recalled by Hervé Renard to Les Bleues, who are banking on experience for the World Cup

When leading a selection, the collective interest is the guiding thread that must dictate your choices. At the head of the French women's team since March, the experienced Hervé Renard has understood this well. Faced with the multiplication of injuries and uncertainties as to the state of form of certain tricolor players, the coach announced, Tuesday at the headquarters of Nike, the equipment supplier of the French Football Federation and Les Bleues, a provisional list of 26 players, among whom he will have to withdraw three names when flying to Australia. Amid the mild Southern Hemisphere winter, the France team will play the 2023 World Cup from July 20 to August 20.

The unfortunates – a goalkeeper and two outfield players – will be removed from the list after the preparation camp, which will begin on June 20 at the center of Clairefontaine-en-Yvelines. This is reminiscent of the choice of Aimé Jacquet, who in 1998, before the World Cup in France, had dismissed six players at the last moment. The latter had then chosen to leave Clairefontaine in the middle of the night and this episode had marked French football – finally crowned world champion.

To avoid such a psychodrama, Hervé Renard will have to show diplomacy and a little more gentleness than his predecessor. “Unlike men's football, the list for the Women's World Cup is 23 players, explained Hervé Renard. The group will therefore remain to be refined after the first fifteen days spent in Clairefontaine for the start of this preparation. »

Kheira Hamraoui absent, a "sporting decision"

Deprived of the talent and experience of Marie-Antoinette Katoto, Griedge MBock and Delphine Cascarino – all with knee injuries – the boss of Les Bleues has chosen to recall Amandine Henry. At 33, the Northerner with 93 international caps had not been selected since December 2020 due to an open conflict with ex-coach Corinne Deacon.

Midfielder of character, Amandine Henry has gone through difficult last months. She hasn't played since March. However, back from an injury a few weeks ago, she has only trained since. Her relations with Olympique Lyonnais deteriorated and she was not allowed to join the American franchise in Angel City (Los Angeles) before the end of her contract. She also witnessed Lyon's double Coupe de France-Division 1 from afar.

As soon as he took office, Hervé Renard had shown his attachment to her by inviting her, in particular, as a privileged spectator to the France-Colombia match in April in Clermont-Ferrand when Amandine Henry was still injured. "I'm here to bring everyone together, that's my way," he explained. On Tuesday, he developed: "We have endeavored to accompany her very closely so that she is ready for the start of this preparation. »

The return of Amandine Henry has extinguished the last hopes of another 33-year-old midfielder, Kheira Hamraoui. Assaulted in November 2021, the player announced on May 28 that she was leaving PSG, with whom she played a lot this season. Corinne Deacon recalled him during the Tournoi de France in February 2023 despite her very bad relationship with her Parisian teammates and Blues executives Kadidiatou Diani and Marie-Antoinette Katoto - close to Aminata Diallo, ex-PSG player indicted in this case. “I told him that the decision was sporting and that it was one hundred percent on my part, insisted the coach. Nobody ever talked to me about anything. I decided in my soul and conscience. »

The experience bonus to "align the stars"

Hervé Renard has drawn more experience elsewhere. Returning to Les Bleues in March after two years of absence, to score her 87th and 88th international goals, Eugénie Le Sommer (34) will have a big card to play with the attacking packages of Marie-Antoinette Katoto and Delphine Cascarino. The Lyonnaise should support Parisian Kadidiatou Diani, injured in the shoulder at the end of March and who has not played since.

Indispensable at 28, Kadidiatou Diani should be operational for the first match of the France team on July 22 in Sydney against Jamaica. "He has a little time left. We gave two weeks off to the other players, analyzed the coach. Kadi will have a personalized program and will not have a cut, it will allow him to prepare a little more. I think there will be no problem. »

At the origin of the revolt which resulted in the departure of Corinne Deacon and the appointment of her namesake, Wendie Renard, 32, will be the boss of the defense and the captain of the team. Like Eugénie Le Sommer, the Martiniquaise will play her fourth World Cup. “She is the one who best embodies the role with her experience, her track record, her charisma and her presence on the pitch. There are no possible discussions, "explained the coach at the end of May to Le Monde.

In attack, to compensate for the packages of Marie-Antoinette Katoto and Delphine Cascarino - "a huge lack for the French team", in his words -, Hervé Renard called two young players, Naomi Feller, from Real Madrid (21 years old ), and Vicki Becho, from Olympique Lyonnais (19 years old). “They are young and very versatile. It's important for us..." They will have to take their chance during the preparation.

Double African champion with Zambia and Côte d'Ivoire, Hervé Renard has chosen to join women's football, in particular for the pleasure of playing in the World Cup and the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. In Australia, he will play his second World Cup in eight months after the men's 2022 where he led Saudi Arabia.

His challenge is immense: finally to win Les Bleues, never titled in a major competition. "We have to get this psychological click," he told Le Monde in the spring. Before becoming world champion in 1998, the Blues experienced failures in the semi-finals of major competitions. You must keep trying. All the stars must be well aligned, we will try to align them as best as possible. »