Why does Africa lack faith in its coaches?

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The Independent Football

Glenn Hoddle and Sven Goran Eriksson are in Lagos, being interviewed by the Nigerian FA with a view to coaching the Super Eagles at the World Cup.

Lars Lagerback, Bruno Metsu and Ratomir Dujkovic have been seen while Louis Van Gaal, Giovanni Trapattoni, Guus Hiddink, Hassan Shehata and Peter Taylor have rejected the post. These men have two things in common, they are not Nigerian, and, apart from Shehata, an Egyptian Arab, they are white.

They will replace Shaibu Amodu, the Nigerian who steered his countrymen to the finals, and to third place in the Africa Cup of Nations. Having been removed in near-identical circumstances before the 2002 finals, Amodu probably saw this coming. Most people did.

Sub-Saharan African countries rarely go into World Cups with African managers. Teams from the region have competed in the finals 16 times, on 13 occasions they have done so under European management, often French.

Should Amodu be replaced by a European, none of the five sub-Saharan representatives at this year's finals will be led by an African. Why is this? Ian Hawkey's recent book on African football, Feet of the Chameleon, offers several suggestions, among them a quote from Nigerian Celestine Babayaro, once of Chelsea: "For us it's important the boss has a big car." This alludes to the need for the manager to be respected for his achievements in Europe but his compatriot, and former national coach, Stephen Keshi, was blunter, noting a player would "try it on because I am his brother, a black person".

However, Frenchman Philippe Troussier, an old Africa hand, believes the issue is about "politics, not colour", arguing an outsider brings neutrality, so his selections are not dissected for perceived regional or tribal bias. Whatever the reason, it is disheartening for a local coach like Amodu.

g.moore@independent.co.uk

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