Only three coaches return to Africa Cup of Nations
Only three coaches from the last Africa Cup of Nations a year ago are returning for the 2013 tournament in South Africa from Saturday.
Frenchman Herve Renard guided Zambia to a shock success in Libreville last February and remains in charge having turned down more lucrative offers from China and the Middle East.
Sami Trabelsi of Tunisia is the other coach coming back with the same team and will hope for a better outcome after the Carthage Eagles made a last-eight exit in Gabon/Equatorial Guinea a year ago.
German Gernot Rohr did not have his contract with 2012 co-hosts Gabon renewed after losing in the quarterfinals, but he took over Niger and guided the Mena (Gazelles) to the African football showpiece.
Among the coaches who have fallen by the wayside during the past year is Francois Zahoui of Ivory Coast, whose team did not lose a game nor concede a goal, but a shootout loss to Zambia in the final cost him his job.
The coaching line-up in South Africa includes eight European coaches, seven Africans and a South American – a far cry from some previous tournaments when foreign-born handlers dominated.
Renard and compatriot Claude le Roy have coached Cup of Nations winners and Kwesi Appiah and Stephen Keshi are hoping to complete ‘doubles’ as they played in tournament-winning teams.
Le Roy steered Cameroon to glory in 1988, six years after Appiah helped Ghana win the title in Libya, and six years before Keshi captained Nigeria to victory in Tunisia.
Renard, who will continue to wear the same long-sleeve white shirt and denim jeans on match days after the superstition-induced routine brought him luck last year, says he has a ‘dream’ job with no interference.
If ever a national football association president was qualified to get involved it is Zambian Kalusha Bwalya, whose on-field achievements include winning the 1988 African Footballer of the Year award.
His zero-interference policy has reaped dividends with Zambia unlucky losers to Nigeria in 2010 after a quarterfinals shootout before taking the same route to stunning hot favourites Ivory Coast last February.
“I received many proposals offering me a lot of money – 10 times more than I earn with Zambia – after winning the Cup of Nations,” admitted Renard, who had a brief, unsuccessful spell with Angola after the 2010 Cup of Nations.
“The grass is not always greener on the other side and having compete control over the squad means a lot to me. I stayed with Zambia because I have a fantastic president in Kalusha,” he said.
There will be five France-born coaches in South Africa – Renard, Le Roy, Didier Six of Togo, Patrice Carteron of Mali and Sabri Lamouchi of title favourites Ivory Coast.
Rohr, Bosnian Vahid Halilhodzic of Algeria and Belgian Paul Put of Burkina Faso are the other Europeans while Uruguayan Gustavo Ferrin is the lone South American.
Luis Antunes of Cape Verde Islands, Rachid Taoussi of Morcoco, Gordon Igesund of South Africa, Appiah, Sewnet Bishaw of Ethiopia, Keshi and Trabelsi are the seven guiding the fortunes of their countries.