Foreign coaches: Are they always the key to success in African football?

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The appointment of Hugo Broos as the new Bafana Bafana coach last week, did not come as a surprise to those follow African football with keen interest.

By Lawrence T. Mangenje

The celebrated Belgian tactician, who led Cameroon to AFCON glory in 2017, took over to replace the sacked Molefi Ntseki, ending the weeks long speculation surrounding the vacant Bafana coach job.

What annoyed some South African football lovers however, is that the country’s football governing body SAFA, hired Broos ahead of fan-favorite Benni McCarthy.

Speculation was rife that the high-flying AmaZulu coach, who is the national team’s leading all time leading goalscorer, was the preferred candidate by SAFA but the association could not reach an agreement with the 2004 UEFA Champions League winner with regards to his technical team.

McCarthy, according to reports in the Rainbow Nation, wanted to bring along his entire backroom staff at Usuthu, so that they shift the momentum which has incredibly-transformed the Durban-based side, to Bafana Bafana.

SAFA reportedly saw that as an expensive option, hence the Broos ‘alternative.’

The Belgian’s appointment was yet another case of a local coach being snubbed in preference of a foreign coach, in Southern Africa.

In February 2020, the Felton Kamambo-led ZIFA board ignored the collective plea by fans in Zimbabwe to bring back Norman Mapeza as Warriors head coach, to replace the retired Sunday ‘Mhofu’ Chidzambwa, who hung the tactics note book after the 2019 AFCON finals in Egypt.

Well-placed sources at 53 Livingstone Avenue told this publication that Mapeza was approached and agreed to take over as Warriors coach but negotiations between ZIFA and the former Galatasary midfielder hit a snag after the latter suggested that his would-be employees pay him at least half of the outstanding money he is owed from his previous tenure.

ZIFA, typically cast a deaf ear on that proposition and settled for firebrand Croat Zdravko Logarusic as the next man for the biggest football coaching position in the land.

Loga, as he is affectionately-known, helped Zimbabwe cross the line in the race for a spot at the next AFCON finals but statistically, his record in the Warriors dugout leaves a lot to be desired.

The outspoken coach took charge of seven games; lost five, drew one and won one -numbers which leave many still skeptikal of his tactical prowess.

That is however, a debate for another day.

In the same month ZIFA unveiled Logarusic, Zimbabwe’s old enemy Zambia, in a bid to reclaim their position among football powerhouses in Africa, sacked a local coach Aggrey Chiyangi and hired Serbian tactician Milutin Sredojević, better known as Micho.

Despite the huge investment in the former Orlando Pirates coach, Chipolopolo missed out on AFCON qualification with Micho’s alibi inevitably being the fact that he did not start the qualifying campaign.

No one can question that there are some foreign coaches who have left  a mark in African football-Hervé Renard being an example, but is it the same with everyone on the continent?

Are foreign coaches always the key to success in African football?