CAN 2019: Nicolas Dupuis, the miracle worker of the Madagascar selectionJuly 11, 2019
We can compare the course of Madagascar to the African Cup of Nations (CAN) to that of Iceland, reached the general surprise in the quarterfinals of Euro 2016 for his first appearance in the finals. But if the Icelanders have reaped the fruits of a deep work done for fifteen years, the Malagasy, facing tonight Tunisia, owe much of their success to a man.
Aged 51, Nicolas Dupuis has headed the Zebu since March 2017, twelve months after his arrival in the technical staff of the team at the request of Ahmad Ahmad, then at the head of the football federation of the Big Island . "Nicolas Dupuis had observed and realized that many things did not work, that it was not rigorous enough. When he was designated number 1, he was able to set up his project »explains one close to the selection.
Former player and then coach of Yzeure, an Auvergnat club he had made in National (Division 3) in 2006, Nicolas Dupuis has gradually made the adjustments that he considered necessary to a selection very little active internationally. "Ahmad, before his election at the head of the African Football Confederation, had given him carte blanche, while telling him that he would not have big means", continues this source. Conscious that isolation impedes progress, Nicolas Dupuis imposes a rhythm that the selection was unaware until his appointment. FIFA dates are systematically used to organize courses, most often in France, as well as friendly matches.
"Change things gradually"
This dynamism, crowned with some promising results, is accompanied by perceptible improvements in the living conditions of the selection. Long tired of lack of professionalism, many players had decided not to play for their country. "The coach had the intelligence to make progress gradually because he had understood very well how people work in Madagascarassures captain Faneva Andriatsima, international since 2005 and who, too, had turned his back on the Zebu. It has not revolutionized all at once, the Malagasy are not used to that. "
The technician has progressively expanded his technical staff by enrolling a guardian coach, an osteopath and a video analyst. Like other coaches, Nicolas Dupuis also wanted to improve the quality of the workforce by offering several players with Malagasy origins to join the Zebu, with the help of Andriatsima recurring, through its networks, to convince more reluctant.
And when some hesitate, like the Strasbourg Ludovic Ajorque, Nicolas Dupuis delays. "This player explained to me that he preferred to focus on his club, but that choice was not final, he recalls. I leave him the time and the doors of the team remain open. " The Malagasy selection, reinforced by several binationalists (Jérôme Mombris, Thomas Fontaine, Dimitry Caloin, Romain Metanire, Jeremy Morel), was the first to qualify for the finals of the CAN 2019.
"He knew how to adapt"
"We can say that, in a way, he has uninhibited us. As we do not have the best team of the continent, he asks us to use our natural qualities but also to be more rigorous defensively ", Faneva Andriatsima continues. The Frenchman, who does not compromise with the discipline, also knows how to be paternalistic with his players. "He knows how to be tough, rigorous, but he quickly understood that the Malagasy are cool, festive, and he also gives us a certain freedom when necessary. In short, he knew how to adapt »adds the Zebu scorer.
Since January, Nicolas Dupuis is also the coach of Fleury, a National 2 (Division 4) club, chaired by Pascal Bovis, at the head of a successful transport company and whose wife is Malagasy. "Being a coach and coach, it just takes a little bit of organization. Knowing that Madagascar is a priority. I go there at least once a month »says Nicolas Dupuis, who admits to have put pressure on the federation, currently led by a standardization committee, to collect salary arrears (it affects about 7,000 euros per month), a few months before the CAN.
Under contract with Madagascar and Fleury, Nicolas Dupuis intends to continue his dual mission. "I have a project for selection, that's right. But there will soon be an election at the federation. If we want to continue to progress, things must evolve He says. Whether the Zebu qualify for the semi-finals or not, Nicolas Dupuis will have left his mark in the history of Malagasy football.
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