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France coach Renard looks towards Olympics after World Cup exit

France coach Herve Renard promised his side would “come back stronger” after their elimination from the Women’s World Cup on penalties against Australia on Saturday.

Les Bleues suffered a third consecutive exit from the World Cup in the quarter-finals as they went down 7-6 in the shoot-out to the hosts after an engrossing tie in Brisbane finished goalless at the end of extra time.

But Renard insisted his team could not have done anything more following a remarkable shoot-out which saw both teams take 10 penalties, with France crucially failing to convert four of theirs.

Cortnee Vine converted the decisive kick to take the Matildas through.

“I would like to congratulate my players for playing so well against an entire nation. I cannot reproach them for anything,” said Renard, who will now lead the team in their search for gold at next year’s Paris Olympics. 

“Next year we will be at home, we still have a chance to win something.”

The 54-year-old Renard was only appointed four months ago after a player mutiny led to the sacking of his predecessor Corinne Diacre.

He left his job as coach of the Saudi Arabian men’s team to take over a side in disarray and turned them into genuine contenders in Australia, providing a platform on which they can build at the Olympics.

France will hope the Paris Games will be where they finally win a major women’s international tournament.

“I have lost competitions on penalties before but I am proud of the players, the staff and the president of the federation,” said Renard, who also won Africa Cup of Nations finals on penalties as coach of Zambia and the Ivory Coast.

“It has been a great experience. I would have preferred to win but that’s football.

“We have spent 53 days together and everyone did their job superbly.

“We just fell short tonight and that is my responsibility. I didn’t manage to do better with this team than in 2019.”

He added: “It’s all part of football. It will allow us to come back stronger.”

Renard admitted the difference in the quarter-final had been the Australian goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold, who notably saved two penalties in the shoot-out from France’s Kenza Dali, her former club colleague at West Ham United.

Dali was allowed to retake her penalty because Arnold had both feet off her line when saving the first effort, but the goalkeeper came out on top second time around too.

“We were up against a really great goalkeeper, who had an exceptional match during the game itself as well as in the shoot-out,” Renard said.

“She made the difference. It was 50-50 tonight, but destiny favoured Australia.”

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