15 October 2014 21:53
Lens coach Antoine Kombouare insists he has no bitterness towards Paris Saint-Germain ahead of Friday’s reunion with his former club.
Kombouare, who won the Ligue 1 title with PSG as a player in 1994, was controversially sacked as coach of the capital club in December 2011.
PSG were top of the French top flight at the time of his dismissal, but famously let that position slip under Kombouare’s replacement Carlo Ancelotti as Montpellier went on to be crowned champions.
Ancelotti and his successor Laurent Blanc have since guided PSG to two straight Ligue 1 crowns, while Kombouare has set about the task of restoring Lens – league winners in 1998 – to their former glory.
The 50-year-old took the helm at Lens in June of last year and guided them to promotion from Ligue 2 in his first season in charge.
Kombouare now has the chance to get revenge on a PSG side under mounting pressure due to their stuttering form under Blanc so far this season.
But Kombouare is adamant he holds no ill-feeling towards the defending champions.
“I am grateful to PSG and will always support this club,” Kombouare said.
“I had two-and-a-half fantastic years in charge of PSG, even though it was hard, with a lot of pressure.
“I do not hide that I wanted to stay. But when I left, it was a relief. I was very happy to leave, working under these conditions with the media asking me every day if it was my last game.
“It went well with the directors, they gave me money. I left and life goes on.”
Yet while revenge may not be on his mind, Kombouare will be desperate to take all three points from the fixture, which is being held at the Stade de France in the Parisian suburb of Saint-Denis, given his side’s dismal run of form.
Lens are winless in their last five league games and sit 18th in the table with eight points.
And, despite PSG displaying a consistent failure to close out games that has left them seven points adrift of leaders Marseille with six draws to their name, Blanc’s men will be expected to claim a comfortable win at France’s national stadium.
PSG will hope that Zlatan Ibrahimovic is able to make his comeback from a heel injury that kept him out of Sweden’s Euro 2016 qualifiers with Liechtenstein and Russia.
Captain and centre-back Thiago Silva has returned to training, but compatriots Marquinhos (thigh) and David Luiz are doubts, the latter picking up a knock in Brazil’s 2-0 win over Argentina last Saturday.
Forward Ezequiel Lavezzi has a hamstring problem, while Lens are without the suspended duo of Wally Cyprien and Ahmed Kantari, although midfielder Lalaina Nomenjanahary could be in contention to play following an ankle complaint.