'I'm not cheap‚' says Morocco coach Herve Renard to Safa
"I'm not cheap‚" was Morocco coach Herve Renard's blunt message to the SA Football Association (Safa) on Sunday from the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) ahead of his team's Group D meeting against Bafana Bafana at Cairo's Al Salam Stadium on Monday.
Safa have long viewed twice Afcon winner Renard as a potential Bafana coach.
He was reported to have been approached by the association after Ephraim "Shakes" Mashaba was dismissed in December 2016‚ with Renard apparently too expensive.
The Frenchman has made it no secret that he likes South Africa as a country.
Safa instead hired then-SuperSport United‚ and current incumbent‚ Stuart Baxter.
Renard then steered Morocco to qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.
Baxter did not qualify for Russia 2018 - his second failure to reach a World Cup in charge of Bafana‚ the first coming in his earlier stint in 2004 and 2005‚ for Germany 2006 - and understandably he has battled to win the confidence of the South African public since.
On Sunday‚ in the pre-match press conference at Al Salam Stadium‚ Renard confirmed the reports that he had been contacted by Safa.
"But this was in the past‚" Renard said.
He added‚ with a smile: "Of course I'm not cheap."
Then he asked his player sitting next to him‚ Saudi Arabian-based winger Noureddine Amrabat: "Noureddine‚ are you cheap?"
The winger replied: "No‚ no. And if you win two African Nations Cups [as Renard has]‚ you're expensive."
Renard continued: "And I know your country. If you want to do something [financially]‚ you can do something. True or not true?
"So if you want me one day [laughs]‚ you know it before. Now‚ if you want to bring a coach without experience‚ maybe it's a very good coach‚ it's up to them [Safa]. This is not my [issue].
"I think it's not fair for to talk‚ if someone from the federation talked about that. Normally they don't have to go to the newspaper.
"It's our negotiation. Negotiations are private. This is my opinion."
At this Nations Cup‚ Morocco‚ with superior player power to Bafana‚ but not immeasurably‚ have qualified for the last-16 ahead of meeting South Africa with 1-0 wins against Namibia‚ and then particularly impressively against Ivory Coast.
Bafana have laboured somewhat to a 1-0 defeat against Cote d'Ivoire‚ but their last-16 hopes remain alive following a 1-0 win against Namibia.
Renard won the Nations Cup with Zambia in 2012 and Ivory Coast in 2015.