They were nine in the beginning. But the only one still hanging around is the Ghana coach. Milovan Rajevac is the last of the Mohicans, — among a host of "white wizards" at the start of the 2010 CAN, — caught in the middle of local coaches. Is this the beginning of a revolution?
African football is shrouded in the mystery of the "white wizard". That European coach who comes to preach the gospel of football to the children of Africa.
This year, out of the nine who began the African Cup of Nations 2010, only one still remains: Milovan Rajevac, coach of the Black Stars of Ghana.
Those shown the early exit include; Paul Le Guen (Cameroon), Vahid Halilodzic (Ivory Coast), Herve Renard (Zambia), Michel Dussuyer (Benin), Alain Giresse (Gabon), Hubert Velud (Togo), José Manuel (Angola), Paulo Duarte (Burkina Faso) and Marrti Nooij (Mozambique) among others.
Hassan Shehata (Egypt), Rabah Saadane (Algeria) and Shaibu Amodu (Nigeria) are the proud African coaches who lead their respective country teams into the semis.
Rajevac, the last of the Mohicans
From the look of things, local coaches have freed themselves of their shackles. African coaches have managed to outdo their European counterparts. For a long time, many players requested only white coaches, as confirmed by Robert Nouzaret during an interview with Afrik-news.com on why there were so many European coaches on the bench.
"First of all, there is the value and experience of local coaches. [But] Federations tend to trust foreigners more. So the best coaches in Africa never attain the highest level… and therefore do not handle selections. It is a case of the snake swallowing its own tail," said the former Guinea and Ivory Coast coach.
"Yet” he continues," I know African coaches who have the potential and capacity to handle the best European clubs or selections. There is also a lack of respect from players towards their coaches. They play in some of the best clubs with some of the best coaches in the world… and then they come back with a ‘small’ coach ... As a result, federations rely on the famous "white wizards" to ensure progress."
Egypt as an exception
Nouzaret also cited the example of Egypt as an exception, whilst indicating that Hassan Shehata’s know-how which was gained by virtue of the most professional championship on the continent could rival the best European competitions.
And the inability of Paul Le Guen to take the Cameroonian team any further in the CAN shows a lack of monitoring, planning, and preparation that failed to follow a specific timetable. The question of the hiring of the expatriate coach to the detriment of a local coach is brought to the fore.
Since 2006, however, with his back-to-back wins, Hassan Shehata, coach of the Egyptian Pharaohs can afford to size up his European counterparts. In 2008, the Egyptian was the only African to reach the semis. He was the only one in the end. Just like in 2006.