European Coaches Leading Africa To Victory--Or Defeat?
After leading quite an impressive winning streak for Ghana, Black Stars Coach Claude Le Roy finally admitted defeat. Losing to Cameroon 1-2 in their final match, and falling to third place at the end of the competition, fans from all across the country are left to deal with crushed dreams and failed hopes for what might have been a complete victory—and the cup—for Ghana.
Loyal Ghanaian fans across the nation are following the current trend spreading through the competition, and calling for the sacking of their failed coach. Nigerian fans almost immediately sought the firing of Coach Berti Vogts, whom they blamed fully for the Eagles 1-2 loss to Ghana, according to the Daily Graphic, which also quotes (Chief) Nath Idowu lamenting that, “[Nigeria] did better under [an] indigenous coach.”
An interesting point to make, seeing as how two of the most recent casualties of the African Cup of Nations have been led by foreigners—a German coach (Nigeria) and a French coach (Ghana). So how do locals truly feel about European coaches being brought in to coach African national football teams?
“The idea of a European coach I think is a good thing with respect to an economic perspective,” comments Isaac Kwame Appong, a Ghanaian Black Stars fan currently attending George Mason University.
Watching his national team from the U.S., Appong feels that having European coaches “creates competition for the African coaches to be abreast with the most modern techniques…but it should be noted that anytime a European coach is sacked for a poor performance, the caretaker of the team is usually a native one…[whose] pay is increased…”
That may be the optimistic side of the story, but other locals, such as football fan Kwabena Dankwa, see another.
“If you watch the teams closely, you realize that the European coaches are nothing special…the teams [playing] now are there because of player quality.” Dankwa said he called Africa’s attraction to white coaches “idiotic” and expressed concern over increasing reliance many locals seem to have on the influx in European coaches leading local legends to victory—and also defeat.
Take the Black Stars, for instance. From the very start of the team in 1958, there has been an historic trend towards European coaches, with Ghanaians mixed in along the way. Beginning with an English coach, George Ainsley, it was several years before Black Stars fans saw an actual African lead their beloved footballers. That was in 1963, when football legend and current Director of the Coaches Administration C.K. Gyamfi took over the position of coach. After little more than two years, the spot was again given over to foreigners, a trend which has continued throughout the years—all Europe, with a mere splash of Ghana here and there.
Over the span of nearly 50 years as a national team, the Black Stars have had, to date, 32 coaches, only 12 of which were Ghanaian. That is barely 38 percent!
How universal is this problem? Is it something that plagues only those teams that have suffered with a European coach (most notably, Ghana)? Or do Africans have disputes about foreigners coaching their teams regardless of whether that guidance leads to victory or defeat?
“I don’t judge a coach only on the outcome of his game, but many fans judge based on the fact that their team didn’t make it into the finals,” says Nigerian (and Super Eagles fan) Henrilynn Ibezim, who is currently studying at the University of Ghana in Legon. Ibezim is, of course, commenting on the overabundance of people who wish for the sacking of both Vogts and Le Roy. Concerning Nigeria, he wishes that a local coach would have been appointed originally.
The current German coach brings “German tactics to a Nigerian set of players,” Ibezim explains, and the team might have done better with an ex-footballer from Nigeria herself, so as to understand the way the team works best.
A good example in this circumstance is Egypt. Having the same local coach from the last Cup of Nations (in which they emerged victorious) bode quite well for the team and its fans.
Economically, it would surely be cheaper to use local coaches—Vogts currently receives nearly 70,000 U.S. dollars a month for his time. A local coach’s salary would most likely drop to less than 30,000 dollars a month. Le Roy currently receives
However, at one point in time this was not the case. In 1958