When will African coaches be good enough?

I listened to a BBC interview with the current Rwanda football coach Silas Tetteh. He had assured self-confidence reminiscent of Jose Mourinho, his self-belief is the biggest asset he has, especially when allied to his attention to detail in preparation and tactical knowledge.

I listened to a BBC interview with the current Rwanda football coach Silas Tetteh. He had assured self-confidence reminiscent of Jose Mourinho, his self-belief is the biggest asset he has, especially when allied to his attention to detail in preparation and tactical knowledge.

Sadly there will be only one African coach at the World Cup, and he is from Algeria.

The time for African coaches is here, we cannot continue with this inferiority complex towards our own.

The most shameful episode was the treatment of Stephen Keshi, the then Togo coach in 2006.

Having helped them to Germany 2006 he was sacked in favour of a mediocre European coach for the world cup. Stilecker proved this mediocrity in the first round and Togo were sent home without ceremony.

This is part of a long struggle for African players and coaches to prove themselves. The first Africans to be signed to European clubs were mostly strikers and wingers; George Weah, Abedi Pele, Kalushya Bwalya, Tony Yeboah and JJ Okocha to name some.

It took a while for scouts to notice that Africans can play midfield, defence and goalie as well.

This way it will take a long time for Africans to develop confidence in their own coaches. Imagine Didier Drogba being told by a local coach what to do, he’d say he’s played at the highest level while the coach was in a local team.

Hence a Muzungu commands instant respect often on the basis of his skin tone and European experience, no matter how low it is.

That said, the level of coaching in Africa is low, although not far behind the coaches we often hire. Most of our coaches are self-taught former players, we need more coaches doing FIFA coach badges.

Football is a science now; nutrition, physiotherapy, psychology, conditioning, and fitness are equally as important as tactical ability. On a club level we need managers and not coaches, the job security of an African coach is poor, they are often sacked for personal clashes with the senior bosses.

Few coaches manage a club from the youth team up, and fewer are given time to implement a long-term comprehensive strategy. Our leagues are not a good breeding ground for future coaches to get high-level football.

Which incidentally is the subject of my next article; is an East African league inevitable? Looking at the Cecafa club competition it looks increasingly likely in the near future to have a full-time regional league.

This is the only way to quickly raise the level of football regionally and attract advertising. The hope is that our coaches will be more severely tested and more often.

So we need to invest more in coaching, give coaches a chance to learn at the highest level but first we need belief that our coaches can be good enough.

We shouldn’t look for quick fixes, we always look for the white knight to ride in and save the day. What about a black knight? I would have been so proud to see a black African coach at the WOZA, even if they lost 10-0 it would be the start of a learning process.

No foreign coach has ever won the world cup, you need a local coach who can understand the mentality of the local players and who then can get the best out of them.

I have no doubt that Tetteh will be coach of Ghana in 2 years, most of the players then will be former U-20 players he coached. That will be the start of a return to confidence in ourselves.

ramaisibo@hotmail.com

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