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coaches' war

By unknown | Jan 18, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Only four African coaches will battle it out for supremacy against their counterparts from other continents at the Africa Cup of Nations, starting in Ghana on Sunday.

The four men from the mother continent are Hassan Shehata (Egypt), Luis Oliveira Goncalves (Angola), Patrick Phiri (Zambia) and Mohamed Abdallah (Sudan).

Shehata is chasing a second consecutive title after guiding the Pharaohs of Egypt to a record fifth Afcon on home soil in Cairo in 2006.

Goncalves has remained with most of the Angolan players who made history by qualifying for their first World Cup appearance in Germany in 2006, including Flavio Amado.

Of the four African coaches, Abdallah had the easiest task of assembling the team after selecting players from only two clubs in Sudan: reigning champions and Africa Champions League semifinalists Al Hilal, and cup winners Al Merreikh.

Six of the 16 coaches in Ghana are from France, led by Tunisia's Roger Lemerre, who was an assistant to Aime Jacquet when Les Bleus won the 1998 World Cup.

Lemerre is hoping for a second Afcon title after guiding Tunisia to the 2004 trophy on home soil.

Another Frenchman at the Afcon is Claude Le Roy, who has the added pressure that comes with leading the hosts, Ghana.

Le Roy is a veteran of the Afcon, having won the tournament with Cameroon in 1988 and being the technical director of the Democratic Republic of Congo in Egypt.

Following the departure of German Ulrich Stielike after his son fell sick, 1992 champions Ivory Coast have employed Frenchman Gerard Gili to take charge of the team.

Gili is regarded as a hero in the west African country after becoming the first coach to lead their under 23s to qualifying for their first Olympics in Beijing this year. Mali's Eagles also have a Frenchman in Jean-Francois Jorda.

The other coaches who have added more French flavour are Robert Nouzaret (Guinea) and Henri Michel (Morocco).

Three coaches are from Germany. They are former Mamelodi Sundowns coach Reinard Fabisch (Benin), Otto Pfister (Cameroon) and Berti Vogts (Nigeria).

Vogts earns about R500000 a month, the second highest paid coach at the Afcon after South Africa's Carlos Alberto Parreira, who earns about R1,8 million a year.

There will be only one Dutch coach in Namibia's Ari Schans, who took over the reins last month after the death of Zambian Ben Bamfuchile.

Bafana Bafana's Parreira, the first World Cup winning coach to lead a team at the Afcon, will be the only Brazilian coach in Ghana.

Ironically, Parreira started his coaching career with Ghana in 1968 after graduating as a physical trainer at the age of 24.

Another coach flying solo is Poland's Henri Kasperczak, who guides the Teranga Lions of Senegal.

In the last six Afcon finals, only three African coaches won titles - Clive Barker (SA, 1996), Mohamed Al Gohari (Egypt, 1998) and Shehata (Egypt, 2006).

In 1996, Barker came up against another African in Riadh Ben Khemais Bouazizi of Tunisia in the final played in Johannesburg.

The following tournament saw Al Gohari triumph over South African legend Jomo Sono, who had many youngsters, in the final.

Ghana's Charles Gyamfi holds a record of being the only African to have won the title three times (in 1963, 1965 and 1982).

Will Shehata retain the title or will any of his three African brothers lift it to make the continent proud once more?


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