Coaches feel heat
NO AFCON press conference is complete without a coach being asked "how big is the pressure?"
Morocco coach Rachid Taoussi broke down and cried after his side was booted out in the group stages on Sunday. Kwesi Appiah of Ghana revealed he has barely managed to get more than three hours of sleep a night since the start of the tournament, while the Democratic of Congo's Claude le Roy, who turns 65 next week, hinted he might quit after his side's early exit.
"When I signed a contract with the national team, I might as well have signed the word pressure on my forehead," said Appiah, though the quote describes all international, or even club-level, football. Appiah was an assistant coach in the Nations Cup last year.
"I usually got a full night's rest then," continued the Black Stars boss, who has made qualifying for the quarterfinals, where they face Cape Verde on Saturday, look easy.
Many coaches could yet crack under the pressure.
Morocco, for example, were supposed to be building for the 2015 edition the country will host but coach Taoussi's mandate was soon amended and the man couldn't hide his emotions after the 2-2 draw against South Africa, which saw them knocked out of the tournament.
A few more coaches will soon feel the heat now that they have reached the last eight.
Sabri Lamouchi, coach of favourites Ivory Coast, has made it known that he will be fired if the Elephants do not win the Nations Cup. The same fate awaits Stephen Keshi of Nigeria, who was reported to have threatened to vacate his post during the group stages after showdown talks with the country's football federation.
Defending champions Zambia's shock exit gives everyone a shout, from hosts Bafana Bafana to debutants Cape Verde. For Gordon Igesund, coaching the hosts brings added pressure. Mali are SA's opponents in the quarterfinal in Durban and the country demands at least a semifinal place.
Asked why he kept taking his jacket off and putting it on again during the clash with Morocco, Igesund said: "It's a hot seat I am in."
Patrice Carteron's Eagles of Mali finished third in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea last year. To crash out in the quarterfinals would be a disaster for his team.