I came across this thought-provoking piece via the Africasacountry blog called “Why do African countries hire non-African football coaches so much?” written by Jimmy Kainja.
It’s a question I have often pondered, particularly when African national teams are playing in either continental tournaments (like AFCON or CHAN) or during the World Cup. It amazes me that so many of our African teams are coached by a non-African manager, and to my mind it appears that some of the choices are very puzzling. Some of the individuals are not even successful in their home countries or continents, have won no silverware or have failed to take their own nations through the qualifying rounds for any tournaments. Yet, here they sit getting paid significant salaries to coach an African team.
Nigerian coach Stephen Keshi argues that African football associations trust non Africans more than they do their fellow Africans:
Keshi told BBC Sport that white coaches are not doing anything that African coaches cannot do. “I am not a racist but that’s just the way it is.” Keshi added that African FAs favour European coaches over African: “You tell a white person they need a year to adapt, to know the country and the players–they are told ‘don’t worry, take your time.’ That is unprofessional and is one thing that is killing African football,” Keshi argued.
Kainja mentions that African countries seem to have a similar mindset for football as they do for their own natural resources:
European coaches are products of the same leagues that most Africans play for. As Phiri pointed out, Africans and Europeans attend the same coaching courses yet African FAs still see expatriate coaches above African coaches, and are happy to pay them a far higher salary. Familiarity breeds contempt; this is particularly true of Africa. It is the only continent that fails to recognise and exploit its vast footballing expertise for its own benefit.
Kainja’s piece concludes with a very valid observation:
Africa’s national football teams have failed to improve under foreign coaches and there is nothing to suggest that it will ever improve. Let’s face it, a coach that is useful in Europe would never leave for Africa (where is Sven now?). Why would they? It is the same way that aid dependency continues to fail Africa, only its own resources and talent can bring its national teams success on the biggest stages.