Africa must be­lieve in African coaches – Eto’o

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - NJABULO NGIDI

FOUR-TIME AFRICAN Foot­baller of the Year, Sa­muel Eto’o, has called on the con­ti­nent’s fed­er­a­tions to give more lo­cal coaches a chance in­stead of con­stantly look­ing for European ‘saviours’.

In the 17 years that Eto’o played for Cameroon he only worked with four lo­cal coaches in the national team and none of them lasted more than a year. It’s not just the In­domitable Li­ons who be­lieve that European coaches equal a su­pe­rior be­ing, it’s a widely held no­tion on the con­ti­nent at in­ter­na­tional and club level. But coaches such as Aliou Cisse of Sene­gal, who cap­tained the Li­ons of Teranga in the 2002 World Cup and will lead them in Rus­sia this year as head coach, in­spire Eto’o to also join the choir of peo­ple who are call­ing for more lo­cal coaches not only be­ing given the task of man­ag­ing their national teams but also backed by the foot­ball gov­ern­ing bod­ies across the con­ti­nent once they are at the helm.

“Africa has to be­lieve in Africans,” Eto’o said through a trans­la­tor in Johannesburg after he was an­nounced as the am­bas­sador of the Cas­tle Africa 5s, a new five-aside tour­na­ment. “There are so many play­ers who rep­re­sent their coun­tries at the high­est level, they re­tire and get coach­ing badges but they are never given a chance in their own coun­tries. Look at Aliou Cisse, he was given a chance and he has done well for his coun­try. But this is my opin­ion and not that of Cameroon’s fed­er­a­tion. What I would like to see is more be­lief on African tal­ent in the coach­ing in the con­ti­nent. We can do bet­ter with an African coach be­cause they have a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of where the play­ers come from.”

The In­domitable Li­ons are in the process of hir­ing Hugo Broos’ re­place­ment after they fired the Bel­gian in De­cem­ber fol­low­ing a poor show­ing in the Fifa Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup and fail­ing to qual­ify for the World Cup. That fail­ure washed away Broos’ suc­cess of win­ning the Africa Cup of Na­tions (Af­con) in Gabon early last year with a make-shift team after five se­nior play­ers re­fused to hon­our the call-ups.

Broos had to make do with what he had in a tour­na­ment where Cameroon were not given a chance, es­pe­cially with pas­sage to glory that in­cluded fac­ing Sa­dio Mane’s Sene­gal in the quar­ter-finals, Ghana in the semi-finals and a re­ju­ve­nated Egypt in the fi­nal. The In­domitable Li­ons de­fied the odds and went all the way to claim their fifth Af­con ti­tle to end a 15-year drought. Be­fore this gen­er­a­tion won the Af­con, the last con­ti­nen­tal ti­tle Cameroon cel­e­brated was with a 20-year-old Eto’o in Mali in 2002.

“I was very proud when Cameroon won the Na­tions Cup but I was sad when they didn’t qual­ify for the World Cup be­cause I thought that they would build from that suc­cess in Africa and take it to the next level,” Eto’o said. “This is young team full of tal­ent and qual­ity. It can go far. But they have to work hard to meet the stan­dards that in­ter­na­tional foot­ball de­mands and reach the level they reached last year when they won the Na­tions Cup. They have to in­tro­duce a coach who can take the team for­ward by blood­ing young play­ers with those who have ex­pe­ri­ence. Maybe then Cameroon will re­turn to that level.”

PIC­TURE: AP

LEG­END OF THE GAME: Cameroon’s Sa­muel Eto’o has been a star all around the world, set­ting the leagues of Europe alight with his pace, skill and eye for a goal. Now re­tired, the for­mer striker wants more African coaches to coach African coun­tries.

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