why African coaches are so little in demand in Europe

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Senegalese Omar Daf, former Sochaux coach, during a match against Toulouse at the Montbéliard stadium, April 19, 2022.

Coaches, selectors and sometimes even both: there are countless Europeans or South Americans who come to practice their talents in Africa. Some have even spent most of their careers 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 to head the prestigious Egyptian club Al-Ahly, and the Congolese Florent Ibenge, involved in the Renaissance Sportive de Berkane, in Morocco, were the only ones training in North America last season. . Africa, after the short interim period performed by Senegalese Demba Mbaye at Fath Union Sports in Rabat between April and August 2021. ” Exhaust pipe “ the first resigned due to the pressure surrounding the club in the Egyptian capital. As for the second, after winning the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Cup and the Throne Cup, he decided to continue his career with Al-Hilal Omdurman (Sudan).

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These profiles are hardly more numerous in Europe. The Angolan Lito Vidigal coached Moreirense FC, a humble Portuguese club, until January, and the Senegalese Omar Daf has just left Sochaux to join Dijon, a club that also plays in Ligue 2 and is joining Ligue 1 until has made it his priority. He and his compatriot Mbaye Leye are the only sub-Saharan team to coach a professional team in Europe since the latter was appointed in 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 mainly trust people who 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 Anderlecht technical staff for the under-18s and 19 years, before returning to Kinshasa as coach of the DRC (2019-2021). Although he has the UEFA license, he has never coached a professional team in Europe. “It’s a form of protectionism and I’m not surprised, he assures. It has nothing to do with racism, as I’ve heard before. »

“It’s a form of protectionism and that doesn’t deter me,” ensures that Christian Nsengi-Biembe

“There can be a certain mistrust of the level difference between the European and African Championships, especially those of Sub-Saharan, adds Omar Daf. The leaders of European clubs want maximum guarantees when hiring a coach.. Born in Dakar in 1977, the Senegalese played for Sochaux for thirteen years (1997-2009 and 2012-2013) before becoming assistant and coach of the reserve team. ” I have spent my entire career in France and obtained my coaching diplomas there. Obviously this is an advantage over someone coming from outside. I had a logical progression, I probably got my chance because I took the steps within a club, Sochaux, where I could start my retraining. »

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The case of Mbaye Leye is similar. The former Senegalese international was already a coach at Standard de Liège (2020-2021) before he was chosen to lead Zulte-Waregem. Two clubs where he had spent a number of years as a player.

A question of diplomas?

In the late 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 just like for doctors: an African who has obtained his diplomas at home, will have to achieve an equivalence if he wants to work in Europe. An African coach who graduated in Europe is more likely to work there.” resumed Christian Nsengi-Biembe.

This was not the case for Franco-Comoros Amir Abdou, Mauritania’s coach since February after more than eight years of being that of the Comoros. He held French diplomas that would have enabled him to train a national 1 club (third division), he had gone directly from the sidelines of Golfech-Saint-Paul, a club at regional level, to that of the Comoros .

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Asked by The world about the absence of African coaches in Europe, Aliou Cissé, the Senegal coach, for his part, believes that “It’s not a skill problem, it’s a lack of confidence.” He too was educated 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. »

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