Seven new coaches at Afcon tourney

The Chronicle

Harare Bureau
WARRIORS coach Norman Mapeza will not be the only new broom at the AFCON tournament in Cameroon next month.

He will be among seven coaches who did not take part in the qualifiers, but will find themselves sitting in the dugout when the battle for the honours in the continental football show-piece begins on January 9.

Former champions Egypt, Nigeria, Sudan, Mauritania, Ghana and Zimbabwe’s opponents in Group B, Guinea, will also be led by new coaches that were not part of the qualifying battles.

The cruel side of football means Croatian Zdravko Logarusic, who was in charge of the last qualifying phase for Zimbabwe, and six other coaches could not reach the Promised Land despite seeing their teams through to the finals.

This could have been Loga’s first ever AFCON finals appearance. But the 56-year-old was sacked by ZIFA in September following a poor run of results and the uninspiring start to the FIFA 2022 World Cup campaign.

Loga contributed four points from the last four games of the campaign after Joey Antipas had taken charge of the opening two games, which gave Zimbabwe four points.

Despite the tepid poor performances, the Warriors somehow managed to book their place at the finals at the expense of neighbours Zambia, who had a slow start.

Loga walked away with a handsome qualifying bonus of US$55 000 as part of his contractual agreement with ZIFA, where he would get 10 percent from the US$550 000 grant, which is given by CAF to all teams that qualify for AFCON finals.

The 0-1 defeat to Ethiopia in the second game of the World Cup qualifiers was the last straw for Loga and in came Mapeza on a short-term contract to see the World Cup campaign through.

Statistics showed that the team only managed one point from four games.

With confusion reigning supreme at ZIFA following the suspension of the association’s board, Mapeza had to be engaged to continue with the team at AFCON.

This will be the first time for the former Zimbabwe skipper to participate at the tournament. Zimbabwe, who are returning to the AFCON tournament for the fifth time, are in Group B along with Malawi, Senegal and Guinea.

Mapeza faces the huge task of helping Zimbabwe go past the group stages for the first time.

He will be assisted by Taurayi Mangwiro, Mandla Mpofu and goalkeepers coach Energy Murambadoro. Benjani Mwaruwari has also been roped in as third assistant coach.

Warriors Group B opponents, Guinea, will be led by another first-timer at AFCON, Kaba Diawara, on interim basis.

The former PSG, Arsenal and West Ham man took over after French coach Didier Six was sacked when Guinea failed to progress in the 2022 World Cup.

The 45-year-old was caretaker coach for Guinea’s last two World Cup qualifiers last month. Diawara played for Guinea at the 2006 Cup of Nations finals in Egypt where they reached the quarter-finals.

Paris-born Diawara, who also played at Girondins Bordeaux and Marseille, has no previous coaching experience apart from serving as Six’s assistant.

Guinea begin their campaign against Malawi in Bafoussam on January 10, after which they are due to meet Senegal and Zimbabwe.

Sudan will be led by caretaker coach Borhan Tia who replaced Hubert Velud earlier this month following the team’s poor show at the FIFA Arab Cup 2021.

They lost all the three group matches, conceding 10 goals and scoring none.

Velud was appointed coach in January 2020 and guided the Falcons of Jediane to qualify for the 2021 AFCON. But the team has lately not registered good results.

The Frenchman was dismissed just four weeks before the start of the AFCON tournament.

Sudan’s new technical staff in the AFCON will be a 100 percent local-based one, with the veteran Tia assisted by Mubark Soliman and Mohsen Sayed.

Tia’s first job will come in the AFCON where the 1970 African champions were drawn in Group D alongside Nigeria, Egypt, and Guinea-Bissau.

Tia has worked in the Sudan Premier League for 26 years and was Sudan assistant coach during the 2018 CHAN tournament where they finished third, with Logarusic as head coach.

West African giants Nigeria also have an interim coaching set-up led by former Super Eagles skipper Augustine Eguavoen.

The 56-year-old was appointed just weeks away from the AFCON tournament, replacing veteran Gernot Rohr who had been in charge of the Super Eagles for the past five years.

The German tactician led the country to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia as well as the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations – where Nigeria finished third after defeating Tunisia in the third-place match.

Before he was axed, the 68-year-old came under heavy criticism from Nigerians after the Super Eagles struggled but eventually advanced from Group C in the second round of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers.

Eguavoen will be assisted by Salisu Yusuf (chief coach), Paul Aigbogun (assistant coach), Joseph Yobo (assistant coach); Terry Eguaoje (assistant coach) and Aloysius Agu (goalkeeper trainer).

Former Nigeria captains Austin Okocha, Nwankwo Kanu and Garba Lawal will provide technical and ambassadorial support for the crew.

The three-time African champions will square up against Egypt, Sudan and Guinea-Bissau in Group D at the AFCON tournament.

Frenchman Didier Gomes Da Rosa is the new broom to lead the Mauritania team at AFCON 2021.

The former Simba SC replaced compatriot Corentin Da Silva Martins in October following a failed World Cup campaign.

Martins had been in charge of the team since October 2014. He could have been participating in his second AFCON finals with the team.

Martins carved a niche for himself as one of the best coaches to have handled the Mourabitounes when he qualified the West African side to the AFCON finals for the first time in 2019.

The 52-year-old repeated the feat in the 2021 edition. Mauritania are drawn in Group F alongside Tunisia, Mali and debutants Gambia. Da Rosa faces a challenge to improve from the 2019 performances.

Ghana have turned to Serbian tactician Milovan Rajevac. The 67-year-old replaced Charles Akonnor in September.

Akonnor and assistant coaches David Duncan and Richard Kingson led Ghana to AFCON 2021 qualification but were dismissed following the team’s shaky start in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers.

The Black Stars eventually recovered from the poor start and progressed to the next round under their 2010 World Cup quarterfinal hero, Rajevac.

The Black Stars have been drawn against Morocco, Gabon and Comoros in the group stage at the AFCON finals.

Ghana are four-time African champions but they have not won the continental title since 1982. But they have lost three African Cup finals since then.

Carlos Queiroz was appointed as Egypt’s new coach following the sacking of Hossam El-Badry.

The Portuguese coach will take charge of the team in Cameroon and will be supported by Diaa El-Sayed and long-time former national team goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary on his coaching staff.

Egypt are the most successful team with seven AFCON titles in the bag.

Queiroz is a former Manchester United assistant and Real Madrid manager, who took Portugal to the 2010 World Cup.

He also coached Iran at the 2014 and 2018 tournaments.

A former assistant to Alex Ferguson at United, Queiroz has also previously had spells in charge of South Africa and United Arab Emirates.

Article Source: The Chronicle

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