Observer on Saturday - - Sport -

JO­HAN­NES­BURG - 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 are su­pe­rior, 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 fives, 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.


AD­VISE: For­mer In­ter Mi­lan and Barcelona for­ward Sa­muel Eto'o speaks at FIFA's The Best awards in Lon­don last Oc­to­ber.

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