7 February 2013

Africa: Keep the Flame!


It now seemed logical when in the run-up to AFCON 2013, Nigeria's coach Stephen Keshi did criticise African Football Associations for their preference for white coaches.

Though Zambia, until then the great success story of African football, had Hervé Renard to thank for masterminding their unlikely triumph last year in Libreville, the 29th edition of the African Cup of Nations will soon have its own history to tell.

Apart from the early elimination of some favourites like Ivory Coast and current cup holders Zambia, the other major surprise is the performance of coaches from the African continent. Out of the sixteen coaches present in South Africa, five (Luis Antunes -Cape Verde, Appiah Kwesi-Ghana, South Africa-Gordon Igesund, Sewnet Bishaw-Ethiopia and Stephen Keshi-Nigeria) are of African origin.

Highly criticised for lack of foresight, their performances have again brought to light the debate as to why some African Federations go in for foreign coaches to whom they pay huge sums of money rather than placing confidence and providing their national trainers, adequate means to work.

Western coaches are not doing anything that African coaches cannot do. "I am not a racist but that's just the way it is." Keshi added that African FAs favour European coaches over African coaches.

This is a perennial debate in Africa. It is always there when a football tournament is begins in Africa. It is not the first time some African coaches are publicly expressing their dismay with regards to their treatment. Prior to the 2010 Fifa World Cup, former Malawian national football team coach, Kinnah Phiri also came out strongly and said, "It's but fair for African coaches to be given a chance to run their own national teams because in the first place most of them are well trained I trained in Britain; so to me, I think it's just because of our own mentality as Africans that we do not believe in our people."

These arguments are supported by the fact that since the inception of the Africa Cup of Nations in 1957, eleven African coaches have mounted the podium with Charles Gyamfi from Ghana and Hassan Shehata being the most outstanding.

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