Qatar 2022 World Cup is almost upon us, with the first match expected to kick off on Sunday, 20 November 2022. Five African soccer teams will represent the African continent. They are Cameroon, Morocco, Senegal, Ghana, and Tunisia.
For the first time ever, these teams are headed by African coaches. In the past, most African teams going to the World Cup are usually headed by foreign coaches. It is surprising that all the African soccer teams heading for Qatar 2022 have homegrown managers.
Does this mean that African countries have suddenly found the belief in their local coaches or that local coaches have proven themselves? The stakes are high, and there will be a huge expectation for these local coaches to make a mark in this prestigious tournament.
Why do African soccer teams give preference to foreign coaches?
After Senegal’s surprising 2-1 win over Poland in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, pictures of Senegal manager Aliou Cissé quickly circulated throughout social media. However, it didn’t take too long before many people noticed something about the Senegalese coach, he was the only black manager in the World Cup.
This raised the question of why African soccer teams prefer foreign coaches. For many years, African coaches have been forced to settle for interim positions, often replaced before a major tournament.
Perhaps, African soccer teams prefer foreign coaches because most soccer players in African teams are foreign-based. The belief is that a foreign coach can easily understand their mentality more than local coaches.
Also, there is the issue where players don’t fully respect local coaches as much as foreign ones. Again, foreign coaches tend to understand the strategy of other foreign teams and can develop a counter plan since they engage more with foreign teams and coaches.
Also, African football federations tend to look for quick, short-term success rather than building long-term goals, and they often find this in European and South American managers. For immediate success, African football federations hire foreign managers to achieve momentary success.
Surprisingly (and for the first time in the history of soccer), African soccer teams set their hopes on local coaches for long-term success in the World Cup. But who are these local African coaches and which countries will they manage?
Profiles of the African coaches leading African soccer teams to Qatar 2022
Some African soccer teams have performed well in the FIFA World Cup in the past. For instance, Ghana was close to defeating Uruguay in the quarter-final of the 2010 World Cup. The Black Stars were led by Serbian Milovan Rajevac.
He is one of the numerous Yugoslav managers to find recognition through managing African teams. He took over the Black Stars head coach position in August 2008 and guided the team to the final of the 2010 AFCON before heading to the World Cup.
In the 2022 World Cup, the Teranga Lions of Senegal reached the tournament’s quarter-finals. The late Frenchman Bruno Metsu led them. Nigeria also reached the round of 16 in the 1994 World Cup. The Super Eagles were led by the Dutch tactician Clemens Westerhof.
For Qatar 2022, African soccer teams have their ambitions set on the World Cup trophy and hope that African coaches will lead them to glory. Below are the African coaches that will be aiming to get their hands on the coveted trophy for the first time.
Walid Regragui (Morocco)
The Moroccan national team appointed Walid Regraguia as their head coach, and he joins a stellar cast of four other African coaches to lead their countries. The 47-year-old was a former Moroccan international who amassed 45 caps for the national team.
Furthermore, he enjoyed massive success when he led Wydad Athletic Club to the CAF Champions League title and the local championship. Walid takes over from Vahid Halilhodžić, who helped the Moroccan national team secure qualifications.
Morocco will battle against Croatia, Belgium, and Canada for the World Cup in Group F.
Aliou Cissé (Senegal)
The Teranga Lions have had a local coach since 2015 when Aliou Cissé was appointed as the head coach. However, that decision paid off eight years later when the former national team captain led the team to their first-ever Africa Cup of Nations title and was also named the coach of the year at the CAF Awards in July 2022.
Aliou Cissé is best known for being the first Senegal captain to reach the Africa Cup of Nations final in 2002. He is also the first Senegal manager to win the tournament in 2022 after reaching the final in 2019.
It is worth noting that Aliou Cissé will lead the Senegalese national team to a World Cup for the second consecutive time, having led them to qualification for the 2018 tournament in Russia.
The Senegalese team earned a spot in the elite tournament after turning around a first-leg loss to Egypt’s Pharaohs. They won 3-1 on post-match penalties following a 1-1 aggregate draw.
Rigobert Song (Cameroon)
The Cameroon national team appointed Rigobert Song as their head coach on February 28, 2022. With this, Song becomes the second Cameroonian coach to help the Indomitable Lions qualify for the World Cup.
The first Cameroonian to do this was the late Léonard Nseke, leading the team to qualify for the 1994 World Cup in the United States.
Song’s team clinched the World Cup ticket after overturning a 1-0 first leg defeat at the hands of Algeria to win 2-1 in the corresponding fixture in Algiers and qualify on the away goals rule.
After enjoying massive success as a former captain of the national team with 137 caps (the most capped player in Cameroon soccer), Song should be able to do well with his team to prove doubters wrong in the forthcoming World Cup tournament.
Otto Addo (Ghana)
Otto Addo showed great coaching dexterity by aiding Ghana to qualify for the World Cup after defeating the highly fancied Nigerian team.
Otto Addo is a former Ghanaian international with 9 caps. The Ghanaian was named the head coach shortly after they were eliminated from the Africa Cup of Nations in the group stages, taking over from Milovan Rajevac. A 1-1 draw in Abuja after a 0-0 draw at home in Kumasi earned Ghana a ticket to the World Cup.
This tactician was also the former assistant coach at German Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund. He aims to take the Black Stars of Ghana to the pinnacle in the Qatar 2022 World Cup.
Jalel Kadri (Tunisia)
Jalel Kadri was the head coach of the Tunisian Olympic Football team between 2007 and 2008. After an incredible coaching career in his home-country Tunisia, where he helped several teams reach the league promotion and impressed during four outstanding seasons as a head coach in the Professional League 1, Jalel moved to Saudi Arabia, where he worked as a Head coach at Damac FC and Al Ansar FC.
Kadri was appointed head coach of the Tunisian national team just after Burkina Faso eliminated them from the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon. He embarked on rebuilding the Tunisian national team after the AFCON disappointment to help them clinch the World Cup qualification ticket.
Kadri becomes the third local coach to help Tunisia qualify for the World Cup after Abdelmajid Chetali (1978) and Nabil Maâloul (1998).
Undoubtedly, the presence of these five local coaches at the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup represents a giant stride toward the development of African soccer.
Even though African countries gave preference to foreign coaches in the past, this time around, they will be setting their hopes on their local coaches to give them victory at the World Cup.
Probably, it will also be an opportunity for the whole world to discover the ability of African tacticians. Do you think the local coaches will perform well at Qatar 2022? Share your thoughts with us in the comment box below.
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