Time for local coaches to call the shots

2010-02-14 12:27

DOES the unparalleled success of the ­Egyptian national soccer

team, the ­ ­Pharaohs, in the Africa Cup of Nations add value to the widely held

belief that locally based coaches are better suited – when it comes to handling

national teams – than their foreign counterparts?

This question has long been debated, especially in Africa where –

in some countries – it is probably as old as the game itself.

An African country is yet to win the World Cup, which to date has

remained the preserve of teams from Europe and South America.

Such a history has seen several African countries looking in these

directions in search of coaches capable of turning around their fortunes on the

international stage.

Egypt, however, have maintained their faith in a local policy and

will probably point out that their latest triumph in the 2010 edition of the

Nations Cup (their third successive and seventh overall title) clearly proves

that their faith in a ‘home-grown’ coach – Hassan Shehata – is not

misguided.

But the other side of the coin is that ­Shehata’s touch was not

enough to take his country to this year’s historic 2010 Fifa World Cup and –

given Egypt’s lofty status in African football and the magnitude of football’s

most prestigious tournament – the Pharaohs’ absence in South Africa is bound to

take some gloss away from the mentor’s achievements.

South African Football Association’s ­(Safa) Kirsten

Nematandani-led leadership has given signals of its intention to go the Egyptian

way.

The country’s football mother body has already indicated that they

will enlist the services of a local coach for Bafana Bafana when Brazilian

Carlos Parreira’s contract runs out after the World Cup.

SuperSport’s Gavin Hunt – arguably the most accomplished local

coach in recent times – is being touted as Parreira’s replacement as Safa looks

to give local coaches a chance to prove their mettle in the wake of

disappointing results under Joel Santana.

Despite Safa’s publicised statement of its intention to rope in a

local mentor, there is still a lingering feeling within football circles that

Nematandani and company are using the World Cup as a benchmark upon which to

test the abilities of Parreira, who already has an impressive 3-0 victory over a

full strength Paraguay during his first stint as Bafana coach firmly under his

belt.

South Africa are not new to the World Cup, but have never gone

beyond the first round in any of their two previous attempts.

In the past, foreign coaches have done little to change their

fortunes and the envisaged appointment of a local mentor could have been brought

about by such a background of events, or potentially, the fact that South

Africa’s 1996 triumph at the African Cup of Nations – which was masterminded by

Clive Barker – was purely ‘home-grown’.

Zimbabwe are unlikely to engage the services of a foreign coach, at

least for the time being.

The Warriors have a bad international record under international

coaches and even the recent 3-0 drubbing at the hands of Bafana is unlikely to

change the status of locally based Sunday Chidzambwa.

Ironically, it was Chidzambwa who in 2004 guided the Warriors to

their maiden ­appearance at the African Cup Of Nations (Afcon) hosted by Tunisia

– after a thread of foreign coaches had failed to do so in 23 years of trial and

error.

The likes of Ian Potterfield (Scotland), Ben Koufie (Ghana),

Reinhard Fabisch (Germany) among others, could not take Zimbabwe to either the

continental event nor the World Cup in a country where football is more popular

than any other sport.

And the Zimbabwe Football Association’s (Zifa) experimental hiring

of a Brazilian coach (Jorge Valinhos) resulted in the Warriors failing to

qualify for this year’s ­Afcon.

This came just four years after the success of Charles Mhlauri, who

engineered the Warriors’ second Afcon berth in 2006.

The nationalities of the coaches who are likely to guide the six

African teams in this year’s World Cup make interesting reading and may suggest

that the continent has an inclination towards foreign coaches.

As things stand, Parreira will be joined at the World Cup by at

least three European coaches who are currently in charge of some of the teams

that will represent Africa – ­Ivory Coast’s Vahid Halicho (Bosnia and

Herzegovina), Ghana’s Milovan Rajevac (Serbia) and Paul LeGuen (France), who is

the current coach of Cameroon.

Nigeria and Algeria – the other African teams that will grace the

football showcase – have put their hopes in locals Shuaibu Amodu and Rabah

Saadane respectively.

To date, Cameroon remains the most successful African team in the

World Cup – a feat they achieved in 1990 when they reached the quarter-final

stage.

While they were coached by local Jean Manga Ouguene during that

tournament, it is important to note that during the qualifiers, the Indomitable

Lions were under the tutelage of Belgian Henri Depieux – who was later sacked

despite not having lost a single game in all his matches. Onguene only replaced

the Belgian in their last qualifier against Zimbabwe.

Nigeria’s Super Eagles also had an impressive show in 1994, when

they managed to reach the second round of the showcase under Dutchman Clemens

Westerhof.

This time around, they will bank on the capabilities of Amodu, who

will be hoping to engineer an even greater achievement.


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