Soccer. African Cup of Nations: Cyril Plouzennec, the Breton who prepares Gabon

2021 African Cup of Nations. Gabon – Ghana, Friday (8 p.m.)

When he prepares his warm-up, running or sheathing exercises, it is to Pierre-Émeric Aubameyang, among others, that he dispenses them. Since 2019, Cyril Plouzennec has been a physical trainer within the staff of the Gabon national team, which has been competing in CAN 2021 since Monday (1-0 victory against the Comoros). The qualification, acquired in March against the DR Congo, was appreciated but the « Panthers » see further. “We had another game four days later so we didn’t really celebrate it. It was just a stage, the real competition starts in January, ”confided the 26-year-old, from Plonéour-Lanvern, a few weeks before the start of the competition.

From the African continent, the Breton measures the progress made since his first balls played on the ground of Plonéour FC. Passed through the youth categories of ES Kerfeunteun before playing up to DH with the Quimper club, he put his ambitions as a player on hold from an early age in order to devote himself fully to his professional project: optimizing performance in high-level sport.

Stade Brestois as a starting point

Simultaneously with his training, Cyril Plouzennec cut his teeth at the Stade Brestois between 2015 and 2018. First attached to the training center as a physical trainer for Yann Pennes’ U17s, he also took care of the re-athletics of the injured under the supervision of the physical trainer Yvan Bourgis. Little by little, the Bigouden was seconded to the professional group on a similar mission then, punctually, on the preparation and animation of collective sessions in addition to Thomas Joubert, then physical trainer in the staff of Jean-Marc Furlan.

A founding experience: “It allowed me to get started in a network and to meet coach Patrice Neveu”. The latter, current coach of Gabon, was preparing to join the Horoya team, in Guinea’s Ligue 1, and was looking for a physical trainer. “He had worked with Thomas Joubert in the selection of Haiti and Thomas offered my services. The coach came to observe me in Brest and the adventure started like that. Today, he helps me a lot, he has enormous resources, I enrich myself in contact with him. »

The Gabonese golden generation

If the Guinean adventure ended earlier than expected, the link between Patrice Neveu and Cyril Plouzennec was not broken. And it is together that they took the direction of a selection of Gabon then in full doubt. But who has a great pool of talent. Such as the star scorer Aubameyang but also some well-known players in Brittany such as the ex-Lorient players Ecuele-Manga, Bouanga, Ndong, Wachter and Lémina or the Guingamp player Palun.

In contact with them, Cyril Plouzennec tries to develop his method despite his young age. “It’s enriching to work with this kind of players but my intervention is not going to change. With the staff, we managed to put a relationship of trust in place and it works very well for the moment.

Especially since the quality of this generation makes it possible to display certain ambitions, especially for this AFCON, despite the various controversies during the preparation (case of covid-19, training strike for unpaid bonuses, etc.). “Go as far as possible. We must at least get out of the pools and try to go to the semi-finals”. But the Plonéouriste is also thinking of a qualification, one day, for a World Cup. “It would really be a source of pride for the country because it would be the first participation. We dream about it…”

“I live my thing to the fullest”

Beyond these aspirations, it is also a human experience for Cyril Plouzennec, who left at 24. “Humanly, I have matured, it forged me to go to Guinea so young. We see certain things, life is tough there, it puts things into perspective…”.

Fully invested, the young Breton does not forget to take advantage of it, aware of the instability of the environment in which he finds himself. “I live my thing to the fullest, it’s complicated to project yourself because you don’t know what tomorrow is made of. I am very well with Gabon and I want to go as far as possible”.

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