why African coaches are so little in demand in Europe
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Coaches, selectors and sometimes even both: there are countless Europeans or South Americans who have come to exercise their talents in Africa. Some have even spent most of their career there, such as the French Claude Le Roy, Hervé Renard, Pierre Lechantre, Patrice Neveu, Hubert Velud, Philippe Troussier, Alain Giresse or Michel Dussuyer, but also some Germans, Portuguese, Belgians or Brazilians . The reverse is extremely rare.
Very few technicians from sub-Saharan Africa are recruited in the Maghreb and in Europe. The South African Pitso Mosimane, appointed in 2020 at the head of the prestigious Egyptian club Al-Ahly, and the Congolese Florent Ibenge, engaged in the Renaissance Sportive de Berkane, in Morocco, were, last season, the only ones to exercise in North Africa, after the brief interim carried out by the Senegalese Demba Mbaye at Fath Union Sports in Rabat between April and August 2021. » Exhaust « by the pressure surrounding the club of the Egyptian capital, the first resigned. As for the second, after winning the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Cup and the Throne Cup, he decided to continue his career at Al-Hilal Omdurman (Sudan).
In Europe, these profiles are hardly more numerous. The Angolan Lito Vidigal coached Moreirense FC, a modest Portuguese club, until January, and the Senegalese Omar Daf has just left Sochaux to join Dijon, a club also playing in Ligue 2 and which has made accession to Ligue 1 his priority objective. He is with his compatriot Mbaye Leye the only sub-Saharan to coach a professional team in Europe since the latter was appointed to Zulte-Waregem (Belgium). On the side of the national selections – the African continent apart -, only the Macau team is led by a Sub-Saharan in the person of the Angolan Lazaro Oliveira.
“It has nothing to do with racism”
« European clubs trust above all people whom they know how to work at the highest level », notes the Congolese Christian Nsengi-Biembe. First coach of AS Vita Club, the latter was part of the technical staff of Anderlecht for the under 18s and 19s, before returning to Kinshasa as coach of the DRC (2019-2021). Although he has the UEFA license, he has never yet coached a professional team in Europe. « It’s a form of protectionism and that doesn’t shock me, he assures. It has nothing to do with racism, as I have heard before. »
« It’s a form of protectionism and that doesn’t shock me, » ensures Christian Nsengi-Biembe
“There may be a certain distrust linked to the difference in level between the European and African championships, in particular sub-Saharan ones, adds Omar Daf. The leaders of European clubs, when they hire a coach, want maximum guarantees.. Born in Dakar in 1977, the Senegalese played thirteen years for Sochaux (1997-2009 and 2012-2013) then became assistant and coach of the reserve team. » I have spent my entire career in France and received my coaching diplomas there. It is clear that this is an advantage compared to someone coming from outside. I had a logical progression, I was given my chance probably because I took the steps within a club, Sochaux, where I was able to start my retraining. »
The case of Mbaye Leye is similar. The former Senegalese international had already held the position of coach at Standard de Liège (2020-2021) before being chosen to lead Zulte-Waregem. Two clubs where he had spent several years when he was a player.
A question of diplomas?
At the end of the 2000s, CAF launched a training program for coaches on the continent, which could lead to obtaining an A license, the highest degree in Africa. But this is not enough to practice in Europe. “It’s like for doctors: an African who has obtained his diplomas at home will have to obtain an equivalence if he wants to work in Europe. An African coach who graduated in Europe has a better chance of working there,” resumes Christian Nsengi-Biembe.
This was not the case for Franco-Comorian Amir Abdou, Mauritania coach since February after having been the Comoros coach for more than eight years. Holder of French diplomas which would have allowed him to train a National 1 club (third division), he had gone directly from the sidelines of Golfech-Saint-Paul, a regional level club, to that of the Comoros.
Asked by The world on the absence of African coaches in Europe, Aliou Cissé, the coach of Senegal, believes for his part that “It’s not a problem of skills, but a lack of confidence”. He too was trained in Europe. “The coaches have the diplomas, only then nothing happenshe regretted during an interview in March. After the 2018 World Cup, I was offered to coach good teams in Europe, not big teams. But I think things will change. »