Congo coach Le Roy gets presidential congratulations

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French-born coach Claude Le Roy got a congratulatory text from Francois Hollande on Sunday after enhancing his legendary status at the African Nations Cup by taking unheralded Congo to the last eight. “He reminded me that I like him am a former player of FC Rouen,” veteran Le Roy said of his exchange with the French president, with whom he has previously swapped greetings.

“It was an incredible feat, a very emotional experience,” the 66-year-old added on Monday of the 2-1 win over Group A favourites Burkina Faso in Ebibeyin. Le Roy did not attend Sunday’s post-match news conference because he lost his voice amid the excitement as he continued his record-breaking achievements at the finals with Congo this year, marking an eighth tournament as a coach.

He had not been given much chance of success at the helm of a country who last qualified for the tournament in 2000.

Le Roy has managed Cameroon, with whom he won the title, Senegal, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ghana and has now coached in 34 matches at the finals since his first in 1986. The last tournament in 2013 marked the only time one of his teams failed to reach the quarter-finals as DR Congo finished third in their group and went out out.

This year, Congo finished top of Group A with two wins and a draw for a tally of seven points. “We so wanted to finish first. We have had a tough time here but I’ve seen a team with such spirit,” he added.

Congo will play in Bata on Saturday against the runners-up in Group B, which will be determined on Monday.

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