African trainers equal to foreigners

Wednesday February 1 2012

By Allan Ssekamatte

African football administrators are routinely baffled by the tricky decision of whether to recruit foreign national team coaches or natives. It is often argued that locals lack the professional exposure to lift their countries’ football to the required lofty heights. The ultimate decision should however b informed by individual countries’ experiences as there is nothing to separate the record of the two sets of trainers. A cursory glance of the African Nations Cup winning coaches indicates the record of natives is equal to their European and Brazilian counterparts, with Africans winning exactly half of the 26 AFCON tournaments to date. Traditional powerhouses Ghana have, for example, won all four of their Nations Cup titles with natives. Charles Gyamfi (1963, 1965, 1982) shares the record for the most number of titles with Egypt’s Hassan Shehata (2006, 2008, 2010). The Black Stars other triumph in 1978 when they beat Uganda Cranes in the final, came under the guidance of Fred Osam Duodo. Ghana’s fixation with Serbians in recent years is largely due to their record in helping the team qualify for their first World Cup finals in 2006, and the yet to be proved theory that they are more adaptable to African football. Additionally, the Pharaohs won their first title under Mourad Fahmy (1957), while Mahmood El Gohary was in charge in 1998, implying Welshman Mike Smith (1986) and Hungarian Pal Titkos (1959) are the only non-natives to win AFCON titles with Egypt. On the flip side, former winners Cameroon and Nigeria won six titles between them under the tutelage of foreigners. The Super Eagles won the 1980 title under Brazilian Otto Gloria and the 1994 edition with Dutchman Clemens Westerhof. Serbian Rade Ogdanovic (1984), Frenchmen Claude LeRoy (1988) and Pierre Lechantre (2000) and German Winfried Schafer (2002) are responsible for the Indomitable Lions’ exalted record. Matter of fact, Eastern European coaches won six out of the first ten editions of the Nations Cup. This year, once again nothing separates the two sets of coaches so far with Ivorian Francois Zahoui, Tunisian Sami Trabelsi and Angola’s Lito Vidigal being matched by Gabon’s German coach Gernot Rohr, Equatorial Guinea’s Brazilian Gilson Paolo and Zambia’s French coach Herve Renard.