‘That we don’t get on well is one thing…’ – Antoine Kombouaré opens up on strained relationship with Waldemar Kita

Antoine Kombouaré’s return to FC Nantes was confirmed on Tuesday. Just one year after being sacked by Les Canaris, club president Waldemar Kita instigated his return to the Beaujoire with the club currently occupying the relegation play-off place in Ligue 1 with just eight games remaining. 

It was the fear of relegation that led Kita to part ways with Kombouaré in rather acrimonious circumstances, and it is the fear of relegation that brings him back. Having sacked Pierre Aristouy earlier in the campaign, his replacement, Jocelyn Gourvennec, was sacked following Nantes’ 3-1 defeat to RC Strasbourg Alsace over the weekend. The former Lille OSC manager lost 10 of his 15 games in charge of Les Canaris in all competitions. 

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Following Kombouaré’s interview in L’Équipe last week, during which he stated that he was seeking a new challenge, Kita was convinced that he was the man to lead Nantes to safety, despite his tense relationship with the former Paris Saint-Germain manager. 

‘We’ll both be happy when our club is still in Ligue 1 come the end of the season’ – Kombouaré

Speaking at his presentation on Tuesday, alongside Waldemar’s son, Franck Kita, Kombouaré opened up on his relationship with Les Canaris’ owner. “I spoke [with Waldemar] of course because if I am here, it’s thanks to him. It is him that brought me back. He told me: ‘Despite the relationship that we have had… you’re a strong character, I’m a strong character, that we don’t get on well is one thing, the most important thing is that Nantes remain in Ligue 1,” began Kombouaré. 

He added, “If he thinks I am the man for the job because it’s him that decides, then I’m flattered and I’m happy to be here. We’ll both be happy when our club is still in Ligue 1 come the end of the season.”

GFFN | Luke Entwistle

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