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Nantes brings back coach Antoine Kombouaré amid relegation fight in French league

NANTES, France (AP) — Nantes appointed Antoine Kombouaré as coach on Monday with the mission of keeping one of France’s most storied clubs in the topflight.

Kombouaré, who returns to Nantes after a previous coaching stint that ended in bitter disappointment, replaced Jocelyn Gourvennec.

With eight matches remaining, the eight-time French champions are 16th in the French league standings, just two points above the relegation zone.

The club slumped to a third straight league loss over the weekend, a defeat that sealed Gourvennec’s fate. The team lost 10 of its 15 total matches under Gourvennec after his arrival in late November.

“We need a jolt to recreate good dynamics, hope,” Nantes president Waldemar Kita told L’Equipe newspaper. “If we don’t act, we will go down for sure.”

Kombouaré, who was reportedly at odds with Kita when he was fired in May last year, has deep links with Nantes.

He was part of the team when the Stade de la Beaujoire opened in 1984 and played 177 games as a rugged defender for Nantes, which has a distinctive all-yellow strip and is the fourth-most successful French club.

Kombouaré also had coaching stints with several other French clubs, including at Paris Saint-Germain between 2009-11. Kombouaré was fired by PSG in December 2011 — following the takeover by Qatari owners earlier that year — and was replaced by Carlo Ancelotti.

Kita said he will put his past disagreements with Kombouaré aside and praised his leadership.

“He is a man who knows how to hold a locker room together,” he said. “We need someone who is respected.”


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