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Football - National selections: Coaches shifting bench in Africa

Stefano Cusin-sélectionneur
Football - National selections: Coaches shifting bench in Africa

Several African national teams have changed or will be changing coaches. A number of appointments are expected to be made in the next few days.

Between the end of the qualifiers for the AFCON in Côte d'Ivoire (January 13-February 11, 2024) on September 12, 2023, and the start of the qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup on November 16, a great deal will have happened in several African national teams, including those that will not be present in Côte d'Ivoire at the start of next year. Sudan have already made up their minds, opting not to keep Moroccan interim coach Youssef Fertout and instead hiring James Kwesi Appiah, the former Black Stars coach. Zimbabwe, whose FIFA suspension ended last August, have opted for 71-year-old Brazilian Baltemar Brito to succeed local man Sunday Chidzambwa.

Cusin priority for Comoros

Younes Zerdouk (50), who took over as assistant coach from Amir Abdou in February 2022, is no longer coach of the Comoros. The island federation's Executive Committee took this decision after the Coelacanths were eliminated by Zambia in the Ivorian AFCON qualifiers, in a group that included Côte d'Ivoire, who qualified automatically. The Franco-Moroccan's successor should be known soon. Italian Stefano Cusin (54), whose contract with South Sudan expires on September 30, is highly regarded in Moroni. The Transalpine, whose salary is covered by a sponsor from the United Arab Emirates, has been approached by the Comoros as well as by a Qatari club. However, Cusin prefers to play for his country. Other technicians, including Frenchmen Dominique Carlier and Jean-Marc Nobilo and Croatian Zdravko Logarusic, former coach of Sudan and Zimbabwe, have also applied.

Congo, who were eliminated from the AFCON at the last minute by Gambia (2-2), have not retained Belgian coach Paul Put, who was heavily criticized in Brazzaville. For the time being, no choice has been made, although the Ministry of Sports is calling for the appointment of a local, unlike the federation, which is more inclined to opt for a foreigner, preferably French-speaking.

According to some sources, the authority has looked into the case of neighbouring Congolese Florent Ibenge, former coach of the Leopards and currently under contract with Al-Hilal (Sudan). Rwanda are also looking for a coach.French National Technical Director Gérard Buscher acted as interim coach during the 1-1 draw with Senegal on Matchday 6 of the qualifiers, but his mission is likely to end there. Uganda, who amicably parted company with Serbian Milutin Sredojevic after being beaten to the Côte d'Ivoire by Algeria and Tanzania, are looking for a new coach. Italy's Paolo Negro has been approached, and other candidates are being considered by the federation, which has received dozens of applications.

Toni Conceiçao too greedy for Libya

In Niger, Frenchman Jean-Michel Cavalli has reached the end of his contract. The president of the federation, Colonel-major Hamidou Djibrilla, likes the Corsican and would like him to extend his contract. In Madagascar, Romuald Rakotondrabe is expected to continue in his interim role. The Malagasy, who helped the national team finish 3rd at the CHAN in Algeria, won the Indian Ocean Games at the beginning of September, and the Baréa held off Ghana (1-1) and Angola (0-0) in the last two rounds of the AFCON qualifiers. Despite bids from several French, Portuguese and Brazilian coaches, Rakotondrabe has every chance of staying on.

Further north, Libya are also looking for a coach. Portugal's Toni Conceiçao, sacked by Cameroon after the 2022 AFCON, has been sounded out, but his salary demands and his desire to bring a large number of assistants are said to have put off decision-makers in Tripoli.

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