Africa will have five home-grown coaches at the World Cup finals for the first time in a breakthrough that could lead to a change of mindset and more opportunities for locals.
Cameroon, Ghana, Morocco, Senegal and Tunisia all head to Qatar next week with a local in charge, representative of a dramatic shift in attitude from football leaders on the continent.
Previously, African teams at the World Cup have overwhelmingly been led by coaches from Europe or Latin America.
In 2010, when Africa had six teams at the finals, only Algeria was led by a home-grown coach while at the 1998 finals, all five African representatives had Europeans in command.
The preference for coaches from outside the continent had been the norm for decades, both in national team ranks and also at club level but is a trend that is now being vigorously questioned.
“Something is happening at the level of coaches on the African continent,” said Aliou Cisse, who is taking Senegal to a second successive World Cup, referring to the new-found abundance of African coaches in top jobs across the continent.
It is a major shift from Russia four years ago when Cisse was one of two African coaches at the 2018 World Cup with the other three at the head of African teams coming from Argentina, France and Germany.
“Our dream is for African expertise to be valued as well, for people to understand that in Africa there are very good coaches,” Cisse said in a recent interview.
The change in attitude has followed the success of African coaches in continental competitions in recent years.
The last two Africa Cup of Nations have been won by teams with an African at the helm, while the past seven CAF Champions League winning coaches have all been African.
Morocco appointed former international defender Walid Regragui to the post two months ago after he had taken Wydad Casablanca to Champions League success in May.
Cameroon will be led by Rigobert Song, who is among their most capped players, Tunisia by Jalel Kadri and Ghana have Otto Addo, another former international in charge.
“These are people that might have had past success and been good coaches in Europe but for African football, you need the right coach for the right moment,” cautions Gambia coach Tom Saintfiet, a Belgian with more than a decade’s experience of African football.
“Someone who understands African football, one understands the culture, who understands the pros and the cons of working with an African team and someone who can get the maximum out of them,” he told Reuters.