The 32nd edition of the TOTAL Africa Cup of Nations 2019 will deliver its final verdict tomorrow to know who succeeds Cameroon as Africa’s top soccer dog.
There were 13 foreign coaches out of the 24 in Egypt with Emmanuel Amuneke from Nigeria being the only African in charge of another country; he was at the helm of the Taifa Stars of Tanzania.
This was an improvement compared to the 2017 tournament where only three out of the 16 coaches were nationals. That is, moving from 19% to 46%.
From the 13 foreign coaches, six came from France, England, Nigeria, Belgium, Serbia, Mexico and Holland all provided a coach each, making it a total of 24 coaches from 18 different countries.
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In the classification game between Nigeria and Tunisia, Germany’s Gernot Rohr had the better of Alain Giresse from France, but the biggest prize of the competition will be contested by two nationals, that is Aliou Cisse of Senegal against Djamel Belmadi of Algeria.
Before even the end of the competition in Egypt, six coaches have already been shown the door. Amongst the six only one local coach so far, that is Sunday Chidzambwa of Zimbabwe.
The other five, Mexico’s Javier Aguirre has been sacked by Egypt, Belgium’s Paul Put by Guinea, 42 year old Frenchman Sebastien Desabre left Uganda on mutual consent, Emmauel Amuneke from Nigeria fired by Tanzania and Clarence Seedorf from Holland sent away by Cameroon.
Going by the salaries of these coaches in this competition, the foreigners were by far the better earners with only James Kwessi Appiah of Ghana and Djamel Belmadi of Algeria amongst the top best paid coaches in the competition.
The top earners, Aguirre, Seedorf and Renard were all eliminated at the level of the Round of 16, while Paul Put and Kwessi Appiah also in the top 10 were also eliminated at the Round of 16, making it five out of 10, with only one local coach among the top 10 earners eliminated at that stage of the completion out of the two.
Amongst the top 10 paid coaches are two nationals, it will be interesting to note that on the other end, amongst the 10 least paid were five local coaches and Emmanuel Amuneke from Nigeria in charge of Tanzania, making it six Africans in the last ten least paid coaches in the competition. Only Kenya’s Sebastien Migne, Uganda’s Sebastien Desabre, Madagascar’s Nicolas Dupuis and Angola’s Srdjan Vasiljevic find themselves on that list.
With the exception of Madagascar’s Dupuis and to an extent Uganda’s Desabre, the other least paid foreign coaches performed as bad as their monthly earnings just like their African colleagues.
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The final between Senegal and Algeria will be a confrontation between the 5th best paid coach (Belmadi) against the 11th best paid coach Aliou Cisse. Senega will be playing the final of the AFCON for the first time in 17 years with three foreign coaches amongst their coaches in that 17 year wait with non succeeding to get them at this stage of the competition (Guy Stephane, Henry kasperczak and Alain Giresse).
On their part, Algeria will be at the final for first time in 29 years with seven foreign coaches amongst their coaches in that 29 years wait (Marcel Pigulea, Mircea Radulescu, George Leekens in two spells, Jean Micheal Cavalli, Vahid Halilhodzic, Christian Gourcuff and Lucas Alcaraz).
The last and only time Algeria won the AFCON, that is, in 1990, Abdelhamid Kermali, a local coach was at the helm of the team.
This is far from being a campaign against foreign coaches at the helm of African countries, but rather a reflection on whether truly the future of African football does not lie in the hands of African coaches.
Is it not more and more obvious that instead of hiring mercenaries on huge pay packages, the African coaches should be valorized and paid accordingly, given the same resources like the novices from Europe in particular who come to Africa to kickoff their coaching careers on huge salaries and end up not achieving anything?
15 out of the previous 31 editions of the AFCON have been won by local coaches, with a certainty that 32 edition will also be claimed by a local boy to make it 16 out of 32.
The competitions two most successful coaches are Charles Gyamfi of Ghana and Hassan Shehata of Egypt with three trophies each, they were both local coaches.
France tops the list of foreign coaches to have won the trophy (5), Yugoslavia (3), Germany (2), Hungary (2), Wales, Belgium, Holland and Brazil have all produced a winning coach each.
It is difficult to trace what often happens to some of the foreign coaches who come to Africa and win the AFCON talkless of those who come and coach and fail to win the trophy. Most of them end up in retirement. Amongst the former foreign winners since 1990 only Roger Lemerre now incharge of Etoile du Sahel who won with Tunisia in 2004, 2017 champion Hugo Broos with Cameroon now at the helm of Oostende in Belgium, and Herve Renard who took charge of Morocco in Egypt, the bulk of the foreign coaches like Wilfried Schafer and Clement Westerhof simply disappeared from the radar.
There are more than enough local coaches on the continent who can take over their national teams, with proven credentials for some like Moine Chabaani of and Faouzi Benzerti of Tunisia, Pitso Mosimane in South Africa, Mounir Jouani in Morocco, Charles Akonnor in Ghana, Emmanuel Amuneke in Nigeria, Bonaventure Djonkep and Alexandre Belinga in Cameroon just mention a few.
There is another group waiting to be given a chance to prove they are more than competent instead of opting for mercenaries and adventurers from Europe and other parts of the world.
It is time African football leaders gave African football back to the Africans for greater strides.