Antoine Kombouaré on the sidelines with FC Nantes

Antoine Kombouaré returns to FC Nantes

Antoine Kombouaré returns to FC Nantes

Publish on 03/19 at 21:00 - E. DEVIN


On the heels of a home loss in a crucial fixture against RC Strasbourg on Saturday, the Breton club have reappointed Antoine Kombouaré, who previously led the club to successive Coupe de France finals.

With the team occupying the relegation playoff zone on the back of Saturday's 3-1 home loss to Racing Club de Strasbourg, FC Nantes have moved to replace Pierre Aristouy with veteran manager Antoine Kombouaré. A player at the club in the 1980s, Kombouaré also featured for Paris Saint-Germain in the 1990s, before turning to management two decades ago. His first senior job was with Strasbourg, and while it didn't go to plan, he soon was picked up by Valenciennes, winning Ligue 2 and stabilizing the northern club before moving on to Paris Saint-Germain.

With the capital side, Kombouaré impressed in leading the team to successive Coupe de France finals, winning in 2010, before being dismissed in 2011 despite being top of the league at mid-season. Another revival project at Lens followed, as he led Le Sang et Or back into the top flight, before spells at Guingamp and Dijon preceded one of his managerial low points at Toulouse, elimination in the Coupe de France by amateur side Saint-Hilaire.

 Following his sacking, he was out of the game until taking over at Nantes in 2021. After winning the Coupe de France in his second season, and again reaching the final (as well as the knockout rounds of the Europa League) last season, he left the club just before the season's end with relegation still a threat. Now, ten months later, the veteran of nearly 500 matches in France's top flight has returned, with the aim of extending Les Canaris' stay.

Speaking to the press this afternoon, Kombouaré showed a mix of circumspection and ambition: "I said yes, because it is Nantes. Even when I left, I look back having spent my best years here as a coach. It was short but very intense, with successes and great emotions. I don't have to lie, it was a surprise when I received the call from Franck (Kita) Saturday night, to meet. I didn't think I'd come back here, much less so soon. Finally, when they came to me and ask me if I'm ready to save the club, I said yes. I'm on a mission. There are 8 matches to go to maintain survival, to save the club."

That mix of caution and determination will serve Kombouaré well as he tries to once again be a bulwark between his beloved first club and relegation.


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