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Last Updated: Saturday, 14 February, 2004, 17:22 GMT
Lemerre plays down success
Riadh Bouazizi and Khaled Badra of Tunisia
Bouazizi and Badra raise the Cup of Nations
Tunisia's triumphant coach Roger Lemerre insisted that winning the African Cup of Nations had not been his priority when he took charge of the Carthage Eagles.

The hosts won their first ever continental title with a 2-1 victory over Morocco in Rades.

It marks a reversal in fortune for Lemerre too, who only 15 months ago was sacked as French coach after their dismal World Cup performance.

The Frenchman can add the title to the one he won with France at Euro 2000.

"I'd like to say thanks to all the players," Lemerre said after the win.

Winning the tournament was the main priority of the people who hired me, but it wasn't mine
Roger Lemerre
"They respected my position since the start and now they've made history for themselves."

But the Frenchman admitted after the hard-fought victory, that winning the top prize in African football had not been the first thing on his mind.

"I have only asked for one thing - the right to work," the Frenchman said.

"When I came here, it wasn't necessarily to win the Cup of Nations. It was to teach and to help Tunisia.

"Winning the tournament was the main priority of the people who hired me, but it wasn't mine.

"Winning is only a peripheral thing.

"It is more important that this is the joy of a whole nation. I'm very satisfied."

Lemerre has brought discipline and solidity to the Tunisian team but refuses to be drawn into a debate over his long term future.

"I prefer to listen to the president say he is happy with the work that has been done," said Lemerre.

"It is satisfying to know that my work is recognised."




SEE ALSO
Tunisia win Cup of Nations
14 Feb 04  |  African



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