World Cup 2014: Why is South America full of coaching talent?

Colombians lead three teams in Brazil, but globally Argentinian coaches are in vogue

When Ecuador and Honduras line up tonight before kick-off in Curitiba and face the dugouts the players will see two very familiar faces. On the Ecuadorean bench will be Reinaldo Rueda, who led Honduras to and during the 2010 World Cup. On the Honduras bench will be Luis Fernando Suarez, who led Ecuador to and during the 2006 World Cup.

If this is not enough of a coincidence both men are Colombian. Indeed, there are a trio of expat Colombian coaches in action in Brazil today with Jorge Luis  Pinto leading Costa Rica against Italy.

And Los Cafeteros themselves? This hotbed of international coaches are coached by an Argentine, Jose Pekerman, who took his native nation to the last eight in 2006. This is actually unsurprising. Colombia has always had a profound respect for Argentine football. During the late 1940s, when a breakaway league made Colombia the centre of South American football, the Argentines at Millonarios (including Alfredo Di Stefano) were the biggest draw. Their 1993 5-0 World Cup qualifying victory in Buenos Aires is one of the nation’s most treasured results. So appointing an Argentinian coach is logical.

It is not just in Colombia, however, that Argentines lead. The World Cup’s new darlings, Chile are coached by one, Jorge Sampaoli as, of course, are Argentina (Alex Sabella). Working at the elite level in Europe are Marcelo Bielsa (Marseilles), Diego Simeone (Atletico Madrid), Mauricio Pochettino (Tottenham), Eduardo Berizzo (Celta Vigo), plus Valencia’s Juan Antonio Pizzi, Argentine born-and-bred, though he went on to play for Spain.

Waiting in the wings are three more: former Barcelona boss Gerardo Martino, Ramon Diaz, who had a bizarre spell at Oxford United but has done well elsewhere and just left River Plate after leading them to the title, and the up-and-coming Luis Zubeldia. Just 33 years old, currently coach of Ecuador’s LDU Quito, like Martino and Diaz he was named this month in World Soccer magazine’s index of most in-demand coaches.

Argentine coaches are in fashion at present in large part because of the influence of Bielsa, whose disciples include many of the above (Martino and Pochettino played under him) and, crucially, Pep Guardiola. Bielsa demands a relentless intensity with high-pressing, quick transitions and usually a trio of strikers. His belief in this is perhaps too dogmatic for the biggest of clubs, especially faced with a long and demanding league season, but adaptations are flourishing.

It is not just Argentine coaches who are making a mark. With Brazil and Uruguay coached by nationals there are eight South American coaches at the World Cup, a quarter of the total. In Europe, Chilean Manuel Pellegrini has just won the title with Manchester City and Uruguayan Gus Poyet impressed at Brighton and Sunderland.

These though, are national exceptions and there are no Brazilian coaches operating at the highest level in Europe. This may seem odd, given there are so many Brazilian players at Champions League clubs but the failures of Wanderley Luxemburgo at Real Madrid and Luiz Felipe Scolari at Chelsea has put clubs off, as have the high wages required to lure Brazilian coaches from the domestic game.

There is also a linguistic aspect. It is easier for the Spanish speakers elsewhere to move to Europe (or work in central America) than ones who speak Brazilian Portuguese. Football may be a universal language, but as England found with Fabio Capello, only up to a point.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map