Tonight’s clash between Niger and DR Congo will mark match number 30 in charge at an Afcon tournament for Claude Le Roy.
“I can’t believe it’s true that I will manage my 30th game because it feels like I’m a beginner,” said the DRC coach on the eve of the crucial fixture against the Mena of Niger.
French-born Le Roy, who turn 65 four days before the final of this year’s Nations Cup, burst onto the continental football scene with Cameroon in the mid-80s.
He guided the Indomitable Lions to the 1988 title, having finished as the runners-up at the 1986 finals in Egypt.
Le Roy said his African connections were rooted in his parents, particularly his father who, he said, helped fight for independence in Congo as part of the peace-keeping forces at the time when the DRC was still known as Zaire.
“I love Africa and football. Even when I’m tired of Africa I just keep on coming back.”
Le Roy’s Harry Potter-styled spectacles has been a regular sight on the continent for over a decade.
When his side face Niger at the Nelson Mandela Stadium tonight, it will also be another attempt for Le Roy to go beyond the first round as this is the feat he achieved in all of his six appearances prior to this edition currently under way in South Africa.
The pick of tonight’s matches is the Ghana versus Mali encounter that kicks of at 5pm.
It will be the third meeting between the two West African sides since their last encounter at the 2012 Afcon co-hosted by Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.
Claude Le Roy’s Afcon appearances at a glance
1986: Cameroon (runners-up)
1988: Cameroon (champions)
1990: Senegal (third place)
1992: Senegal (quarterfinals)
2006: DR Congo (quarterfinals)
2008: Ghana (third place)
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