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The tournament's 'white wizards'


Text by Emmanuel VERSACE

Latest update : 2010-01-12

While Africa is fast replacing South America as the leading pool of football talents, many of its national teams still opt for European coaches. We take a look at the nine "white wizards" taking part in the Africa Cup of Nations.

Michel Dussuyer (Benin)

Michel Dussuyer started his coaching career at the AS Cannes in southern France. His first African experience took him to Guinea, where he led the country’s national team to the quarter-finals of the CAN 2004. Dussuyer was hired in 2006 by Henri Michel, who was then coaching Ivory Coast’s national team. After a short stay back in Cannes (2006 – 2007), he was appointed to coach Benin’s national team in 2008. Two days after his nomination, Benin secured an emphatic 4-1 win over Uganda in Cotonou.

Results since taking charge: 7 victories, 6 defeats, 2 draws.


Paul Le Guen (Cameroon)

After being sacked by French club Paris Saint-Germain in 2009, Paul Le Guen signed a 5 month-contract in Cameroon with a delicate mission to salvage the national team’s faltering campaign to qualify for the World Cup and the CAN. After a string of six games without a defeat, the “Indomitable Lions” are back on track as one of the tournament’s favourites.
Results since taking charge:
5 victories, 1 draw.


A former top international who led France to its 1984 European Cup victory, Alain

Alain Giresse (Gabon)

Giresse has been training Gabon since March 6, 2006. After a promising start, Gabon’s “Panthers” failed to qualify for the World Cup, due to defeats to Cameroon and Togo. But, should they recover their early form, Giresse’s men could well spring a surprise at the CAN.

Results since taking charge: 11 victories, 9 defeats, 7 draws.


Hubert Velud (Togo)

A former French goalkeeper, Hurbert Velud began a new career as a coach in 1989. He replaced Belgian manager Jean Thissen at the helm of Togo’s national team in October 2009. Despite losing his first two games with the “Sparrowhawks”, Velud managed to qualify his team for the Cup of Nations after beating Gabon 1-0.

Results since taking charge: 1 victory, 3 defeats.



Vahid Halilhodzic (Ivory Coast)

Vahid Halilhodzic signed his first African contract in 1997, when the French-Bosnian dual national started coaching one of Morocco’s most prestigious clubs, Raja de Casablanca. Vahid returned to France in 1998, where he spent ten years coaching clubs in Rennes and Paris. In May 2008, he signed a two-year contract with Ivory Coast’s national team, the “Elephants”. Vahid got off to a good start and hot favourites Ivory Coast finished top of their group in the CAN qualifying stage.

Results since taking charge: 9 victories, 1 defeat, 9 draws.


Milovan Rajevac (Ghana)

Milovan Rajevac coached several Serbian clubs before taking over Ghana’s national team in August 2008. He succeeded Africa’s most famous “white wizard”, Frenchman Claude le Roy, who chose not to prolong his contract in May 2008. Rajevac has already fulfilled his first mission, qualifying the “Black Stars” for the World Cup and the CAN, a competition Ghana has won four times (1963, 1965, 1978, 1982).

Results since taking charge: 7 victories, 5 defeats, 1 draw.




Manuel José (Angola)

Manuel José joined Angola’s national team shortly after leaving the famed Egyptian club of Al-Ahli. The Angolan squad’s failure to repeat the feat of qualifying for the next World Cup had prompted a serious crisis for the “Black Antelopes”, who lost two coaches in less than six months. Manuel José was given just ten months to breathe new life into the team before they play host to the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations.

Results since taking charge: 2 victories, 1 defeat, 7 draws.


Paulo Duarte (Burkina Faso)

Paulo Duarte is well-known for his fiery temper and his experience as deputy coach at the Uniao club in Leiria, which earned him the nickname of “little Mourinho”. Caught between his contracts with French club Le Mans and his role as coach of Burkina Faso’s national team since 2007, Duarte finally chose the African path this year. He will lead Burkina Faso’s “Stallions” in their first Cup of Nations since 2004.

Results since taking charge: 9 victories, 10 defeats, 3 draws.




A former instructor at the Dutch Football Federation, Marrt Nooij moved to

Marrt Nooij (Mozambique)

Mozambique in 2003 to take the helm of the under-20-year-old team, which he led to the junior World Cup in the Arab United Emirates. Nooij took over the senior team, the “Mambas”, in September 2007.

Results since taking charge: 9 victories, 12 defeats, 4 draws.



Date created : 2010-01-09