Experienced as a debacle, Ivory Coast’s heavy defeat against Equatorial Guinea (0-4), Monday January 22 at the Alassane-Ouattara stadium in Ebimpé, is already having consequences on Ivorian football. Even if its chances of reaching the round of 16 are reduced, the selection of the host country for the African Cup of Nations (CAN) has not yet been eliminated. It can still, depending on the results of the matches of the third day of groups E and F, be qualified.

But the man who was his coach until now, the Frenchman Jean-Louis Gasset, already knows that he will not experience the next round from the edge of the field. He was dismissed from his position, as well as his deputy Ghislain Printant, for “insufficient results, in accordance with the contract of objectives which linked them to the FIF”, according to a press release from the Ivorian Football Federation (FIF) published Wednesday .

Emerse Faé, the former Elephants midfielder (44 caps), who was one of Jean-Louis Gasset’s deputies, was chosen to act as interim manager. For the former FC Nantes player, who celebrates his 40th birthday this January 24, “it’s more than an honor.” “It’s also a lot of pressure, but we like it so we’re going to give it our all,” he replied to Le Monde. If the team qualifies, the interim coach will therefore be on the bench with as assistants Alain Gouaméné, former goalkeeper of the Elephants (victorious during the 1992 CAN), and Guy Demel, former defender of the Ivorian selection.

Emotion et excuses

The FIF specified that it would soon recruit a new coach, probably in February. Two friendly matches are scheduled for March to prepare for the third and fourth days of qualifying for the 2026 World Cup, against Gabon and Kenya.

At 70 years old, Jean-Louis Gasset, appointed in May 2022, announced that becoming coach of Côte d’Ivoire – this is the first time he has taken charge of a selection and coached in Africa – would undoubtedly be the last major challenge of his long coaching career. He also dreamed of participating in the 2026 World Cup. His emotion and his apologies to the Ivorian people were not enough.

The conditions for the departure of the former coach of AS Saint-Etienne and the Girondins de Bordeaux, however, remain quite unclear, as a source close to the FIF explains to Le Monde: “The press release mentions a dismissal. But it is also said that Jean-Louis Gasset would have offered his resignation at the suggestion of the president of the FIF, Yacine Idriss Diallo. Is it a question of financial compensation? The coach earned 108,000 euros per month, he was under contract… Being sacked theoretically gives him the right to receive compensation. »

As the only response, Yacine Idriss Diallo sent Le Monde the video of the press conference he gave on May 20, 2022, when Jean-Louis Gasset was appointed. “The number 1 coach who will come, he has a short-term mission, he does not have a long-term mission. His mission is the CAN and a maximum of one additional year. If he does not win the CAN or if he does not have results that we consider satisfactory, at least semi-final, he will not be renewed,” he assured.

The president of the FIF “under pressure”

The surprise among observers comes mainly from the fact that the Ivorian selection has not yet been eliminated. “The pressure around Jean-Louis Gasset was too great, Idriss Diallo could not wait any longer. But the problem is that in Ivory Coast, we have always operated like this, annoys sports journalist Fernand Dédeh. It is not a problem of coaching but of sports management in Ivory Coast. With a federation president and a coach, for it to work, you have to work over the long term, like what is done in Senegal. »

Thursday morning at 10 a.m. (Ivorian time), the FIF executive committee will meet at the body’s headquarters, in particular to discuss the question of the future coach. “Idriss Diallo himself is under pressure, supporters are calling for his resignation. If the selection manages to be among the four best third-placed and qualify for the round of 16, it will attract attention as long as it is in the running. But the problems will eventually return,” concludes our source close to the federation.

Since the debacle of the Elephants, thousands of Ivorians have asked former captain Didier Drogba, who was a candidate for head of the FIF in 2022 but was not elected by his peers, to take up the torch of the presidency of the federation.