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Sunday, 2 February, 2003, 15:59 GMT
Nouzaret flees Ivory Coast
Robert Nouzaret
Nouzaret spent five days locked in his hotel
Ivory Coast coach Robert Nouzaret has fled to his native France fearing for his safety after a wave of anti-French sentiment gripped the West African country.

Nouzaret has been forced to spend five days locked in a hotel in Abidjan following a wave of anti-French protests in the capital city.

These protests led to a mass evacuation of French nationals on Thursday.

"The last five days were tough," Nouzaret told the news agency AFP.

Obviously I'm hoping there won't be a civil war but there's a risk of a big change there now

Robert Nouzaret

"When the anti-French demonstrations started in Abidjan I had to stay put in my hotel.

"Obviously I'm hoping there won't be a civil war but there's a risk of a big change there now."

Nouzaret said that he had no plans to return to his adopted country until the safety of French nationals was assured.

"The atmosphere is tense," he added.

"French homes have been attacked and some French families came to take refuge in the hotel as they were afraid to stay at home."

Nouzaret, who turns 60 next week, is trying to prepare his team for a friendly fixture against Cameroon in the French town of Chateauroux on February 11.

He said he plans to stay in his post as long as circumstances allow.

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