Claude Makelele, a former midfielder for Chelsea and Real Madrid, is still eager to take over as manager of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The 49-year-old intends to succeed veteran Argentine coach Hector Cuper, who was fired last month, and become the Leopards’ third manager in three years.
“I have already said that the job does appeal to me and I am more than interested in it.
“To be in charge of the Leopards is an exciting job for whoever gets it and most especially the challenge ahead [of reaching the Nations Cup], but we have to wait and see.”
The Democratic Republic of the Congo was denied a spot at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, which was held earlier this year in Cameroon, and was then defeated by Morocco in the Africa 2022 World Cup play-offs in March.
Makelele has previously served as manager of Belgian clubs Eupen and Bastia, but he is currently back at Chelsea serving as a technical advisor and youth coach at Stamford Bridge.
Claude Makelele – Cherished son
Makelele, the son of former international Andre-Joseph, was born in the capital of the DR Congo and moved to Europe with his father when he was four years old in 1977.
He still enjoys a high reputation in his native country, and he already expressed his desire to assist in putting the Leopards back on track two weeks ago.
“Speaking personally, I feel ready to manage the DR Congo national team,” he told French station Canal Plus.
“We all need to sit down together in order to restructure football in the Democratic Republic of Congo.”
Makelele won league championships in three separate countries while playing and was on the losing team in the 2006 World Cup final against Italy. He was capped 71 times by France.
During his domestic career, he made over 800 appearances and won 15 trophies, including two Premier League championships with Chelsea and the Champions League with Real Madrid in 2002.
Makelele was hired as a coach by his former club Paris St-Germain, managed by Carlo Ancelotti, when he retired in 2011.
In 2014, he oversaw Bastia for little under six months before accepting a position as technical director with Monaco.
Makelele returned to Chelsea in August 2019 after spending 18 months coaching at Eupen and Swansea City.
Under former coach Florent Ibenge, who came over in August 2014 and guided the Leopards to three straight Africa Cup of Nations competitions, the two-time African champions DR Congo made some strides.
Under his direction, they took third place in 2015, advanced to the quarterfinals the following year, and nearly fell in Egypt’s round of 16 in 2019.
But before Cuper took over in May of last year, his successor, Christian Nsengi-Biembe, was unable to compete at this year’s finals in Cameroon.
Cuper led the team to victory in their World Cup qualification group, but due to Morocco’s 5-2 victory on the road, they were unable to advance to Qatar.
Cuper was fired as the head coach of the Leopards after the team lost its first two Nations Cup qualifiers, losing to Sudan 2-1 in Omdurman and Gabon 1-0 in Omdurman.
With the next two qualifying rounds slated for September, the team will have their work cut out for them if they want to compete in the finals in Ivory Coast the following year.