Foreign coaches head home after World Cup

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Carlos Alberto Parreira, Sven Goran Eriksson, Paul Le Guen, Lars Lagerback… Foreign coaches plying their trade in Africa with little success. Ghana is the only team on the continent to have reached the final 16 of the 2010 World Cup. Time to change?

Carlos Alberto Parreira, who became the first coach for a World Cup host not to make it through the group stages, will lead the cast of foreign coaches to dump their African teams.

All African teams with the exception of Algeria had put their trust on foreign mentors.

Parreira, will pack his bags, acompanied by a hefty pay check to his native Brazil, as South Africa become the first hosts in the tournament’s history to fail to progress beyond the group stage.

But soon after beating France 2-1 Parreira insisted he had rebuilt Bafana Bafana into a force, arguing that it was always going to be a tough call for the hosts to advance from Group A that had two former champions — Uruguay and France — as well as Mexico.

“I have helped to give this team identity and I leave with pride rather than disappointment and against France we showed our qualities and that we have now laid the foundation for a strong Bafana Bafana team and I have told the boys that I look forward to being with them [for the next World Cup] in Brazil in 2014 and I can be their guide there”, Parreira said.

It looks to be the same tale with Nigeria’s Swedish coach Lars Lagerback who refused to commit himself to a future with the West Africans following the Super Eagles’ exit.

Lagerback watched Nigeria fail to win any of their three Group B matches against Argentina, Greece and South Korea with their last match against the Asians proving their most painful as they squandered plenty of chances to eke a win and squeeze through the last 16.

Soon after the 2-2 draw with the Koreans, Lagerback shook the hands of every member of his squad and revealed moments later that he was unsure about his future.

“I will write some sort of report about this whole tournament and then send it to the NFF [Nigerian Football Federation] who will then decide what happens from here.”

“But I am obviously disappointed, we had chances to win today, there was an improvement in the performance from our previous games”, Lagerback said.

But Cameroon’s coach Paul Le Guen on Thursday evening quit as his team failed to register ant point, with the Indomitable Lions losing 2-1 to the Netherlands.

Le Guen, a French national told a press briefing: “My contract is coming up, and it was clear all along I would stop now. Maybe I didn’t succeed in unifying the team and bringing the team together.”

Le Guen had to be forced to make changes in Cameroon’s final game which they still lost despite an improved show also proved that the Frenchman may not have been the best choice for the Indomitable Lions’ World Cup team.

Cote d’Ivoire, one of Africa’s flagship teams at this tournament also arrived in South Africa having hired an expatriate, former England coach Sven Goran Eriksson.

But the big question is if their second round qualification chances were that remote from a “Group of Death” that includes Brazil and Portugal, was the hiring of Eriksson the best decision given his lack of proper knowledge of the Ivorian game? Eriksson just like fellow Swede Lagerback will await the Cote d’Ivoire football authorities’ decision before he knows his fate.

When the six African teams began their first World Cup on home soil, Algeria’s Desert Foxes were the only side being coached by a home-grown mentor Rabah Saadane and the North Africans have not fared terribly under him.

Super Eagles legend Austin “Jay Jay” Okocha has also reckoned that the continent’s teams should have done more to invest in local coaches and young players which he believes is the only key to improved showings by the African teams.

Okocha was also critical of the performances of some top African players were not going “that extra mile to get results”. “It’s about character. Our players have not shown enough passion. It’s an African tournament — we thought we could capitalise on that. That hasn’t been the story.”

It remains a question though whether Africa will put behind its forgettable show in South Africa and invest in a system that empowers and builds the capacities of local coaches as well as investing in youth who can be blended with a few deserving experienced players.

After all the expatriate coaches have shown they are ready to jump ship at the end of each tournament and seek greener pastures.

2010 World Cup  South Africa's preparation to host the games on African soil for the first time but also individual African countries' determination to take part in the historic event. Five African countries - Cameroon, Nigeria, Algeria, South Africa and Ghana - are selected to join twenty seven teams from around the world to battle it out on the football pitch for the gold trophy. One by one, the African teams are eliminated, but Africans will not be bogged down as they rally behind their compatriots on the wings of the vuvuzela, a far cry from the near diplomatic row between Algeria and Egypt during the qualifiers. Ghana are the last team to leave but not before African unity becomes reality...
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