AFCON 2017: Kalou retires as Renard plays down Morocco’s title hopes

Ivory Coast striker Salomon Kalou has retired from international football after his team’s exit from the Africa Cup of Nations.

The Elephants saw their AFCON title defence come to a premature end on Tuesday night when they were beaten 1-0 by Morocco in Oyem, confirming their first-round exit from the 2017 tournament in Gabon.

This has prompted Kalou, who was part of the squad which won the Nations Cup in 2015, to announce his retirement from international football.

“I am 31, this is my sixth Africa Cup of Nations. I have been to a final and won another,” said the Hertha Berlin player.

“This time things did not go so well. There are young players like (Franck) Kessie, (Wilfried) Zaha… I think they are the future of Ivorian football and I wish them good luck.”

Morocco coach Herve Renard says there are better teams than his in the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals.

Renard guided his team to the last eight with a 1-0 win over Ivory Coast, who he led to the 2015 title.

He said: “I was very lucky to work with Ivory Coast and we share the same spirit. But now I have to continue and try to take Morocco far.

“We are not favourites to win the tournament, there are better teams than us. But we are still in it.”

The Frenchman can achieve an unprecedented third title with a third different nation, having also lifted the trophy with Zambia in 2012.

But he was cautious after Tuesday’s win over the Ivorians and suggested the shocking pitch at Oyem was a contributing factor to their success.

“I feel very good and give congratulations to the players. They did very well tactically, they didn’t do very well technically – but the pitch is very difficult.

“Today we beat the Ivory Coast on a bad pitch that proved to be a leveller.

“But at the end when you win the game 1-0 against the African champions you are very happy. “

He also revealed that he gave his team a harsh reality check at the interval, even though they appeared comfortable in holding the Ivorians to 0-0 – a scoreline that would have put the Atlas Lions through.

“I told my team during half-time that if we continued to play as we were then we would go out, it was not good enough in the first half,” he said.

Source : SunOnline

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