1 February 2018 – Africa has always had to come from behind, work harder and fight for footballing success. The continent has come a long way over the past decades and I firmly believe that we can now compete with Europe, South America and indeed the rest of the world, particularly in the coaching department. Africa has produced some talented coaches in recent times. Here are a few stand-outs that have done the continent proud.
Stephen Keshi (Nigeria)
The late former Nigerian captain is only one of two men to have lifted the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) titles both as player (1994) and coach (2013). This Super Eagles fan favourite won over the hearts of his players as well as fans with his gutsy determination and no-nonsense attitude. He was ranked the number one head coach in Africa and an incredible fourteenth in the world in 2014. Once touted a potential Bafana Bafana coach, ‘The Big Boss’ has left an indelible mark on anyone who has ever played with him or under him.
Lamine N’Diaye (Senegal)
This Senegalese tactician began his playing career for French clubs Cannes and Mulhouse as an innovative striker while also representing his country on numerous occasions. He then briefly managed Mulhouse before moving on to Cameroon side Coton Sport between 2003 and 2006. He eventually went on to manage African giants TP Mazembe, with whom he is now technical director. His career highlight was competing on the highest stage of them all in the 2010 FIFA Club World Cup in which his team made it all the way to the final and narrowly lost to European giants Inter Milan after playing an enterprising brand of football. He stated after that loss: “Our football is growing and we have to keep working to achieve new heights”. Wise words indeed from this African legend!
Hassan Shehata (Egypt)
A man who has etched himself into the pantheon of African coaching greats will always be remembered as the first coach to lead a national team to three consecutive AFCON titles. Born in Egypt in 1947, he led the country to the unprecedented treble in 2006, 2008 and 2010 while also tasting managerial success at the Youth AFCON in 2003. He won the CAF Coach of the Year award in 2008 to add to his many awards as a player in the 70s. Egypt achieved a world ranking as high as 9th under his reign as Shehata infused a strict, disciplinarian style approach to an already talented team.
Pitso Mosimane (South Africa)
This former national team coach, player and current Mamelodi Sundowns boss is one of South Africa’s favourite sons having firmly stamped his authority on African football. His coaching career took off at Pretoria-based Supersport United where he led the team to several titles between 2001 and 2007. He then went on to coach Bafana Bafana and was soon thereafter snapped up by African giants Sundowns where he proceeded to build a team to compete in Africa. Rewards soon paid off as he took the team to unprecedented highs including being crowned champions of Africa in 2016 while then proceeding to compete in the FIFA Club World Cup. He was ranked the tenth best coach of that year according to the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS). He then won the Coach of the Year accolade at the Glo-CAF awards and stands alone as the only coach in the PSL era to claim a clean sweep of all domestic trophies.
Rabah Saadane (Algeria)
Affectionately known as ‘Sheikh’, this five-time coach of North African giants Algeria was designated the ‘greatest African coach of all time’ by the Africa International Sport Convention (CISA) and is the only coach in the history of the game to qualify a team for four FIFA World Cups (including one at junior level). An outstanding achievement that has placed Africa firmly on world map in terms of producing top footballing talent. Saadane will be remembered as an inspiration and role model for up and coming managers across the continent.
Honourable Mentions: Clive ‘the dog’ Barker (South Africa); Gordon Igesund (South Africa); Faouzi Benzarti (Tunisia); Mahmoud El-Gohary (Egypt).
There is little doubt that Africa has the talent, know-how and expertise to compete with the rest of the world. It is aonly a matter of time before Pele’s prediction comes true and an African nation stuns the world by winning the FIFA World Cup.
By: Dhirshan Gobind