It’s a weekend of debuts for coaches and players in the AFCON Qualifiers this weekend.
Across the continent, countries will be hoping to reach the biggest football showpiece. There will be shocks, notable names missing, key players picking the right spots to shine and debutants who will definitely need a bit more time to find their feet on a continent where the conditions call for a harder approach to the game to succeed.
The Mexican took over from Hector Cuper after Egypt’s World Cup debacle that saw them lose all three group games at the World Cup. The hope of millions of Egyptians laid in the hands of the former Valencia manager but his efforts were not enough at the football fiesta albeit getting them there for the first time in 28 years. Aguirre joined the Pharoahs last month with an incredible amount of pressure to qualify the team to AFCON 2019 and winning it to appease millions of braying Egyptians who were disenchanted after missing out on a place in the knockout stages of the World Cup. Aguirre’s job comfortably begins in Egypt when his side welcomes Niger. He will know he has to hit the right notes from the start to get him in the fans’ corner before the hard times come. (And those come quite quickly these days)
Arguably the biggest coaching appointment in the past year – Seedorf took the reins at Cameroon with his assistant and former teammate Patrick Kluivert. Both men will be hoping that the Dutch takeover will be the best for Cameroonian football, starting in Comoros this weekend. Seedorf himself has had unsuccessful spells at his former club AC Milan and Deportivo La Corona. The Cameroon job came at a time where he desperately needed a job to save some of his tarnished reputation. Cameroon themselves have had an undulating two years in football. They have gone from being African champions to missing out on the World Cup in Russia and breaking the Hugo Broos’ love story. Seedorf and Kluivert on an African land. Two Dutchmen taking over an African country… You never see that often.
Like the old football saying goes, “great football players never really make great coaches”, Rabah Madjer’s appointment and eventual sacking is bare evidence of this. In the 80’s the man was unplayable. His coaching career though hasn’t quite hit the same heights. After falling out with the Algerian FA, he was replaced with country man Djamel Belmadi. Belmadi doesn’t come in with a huge reputation- having managed solely in the Gulf region.
He comes in with a task to qualify the Desert Foxes for AFCON 2019 and the job begins on Saturday when his side faces Gambia in Banjul.
After winning the U-20 World Cup with France, he made his senior debut as a 20-year-old and went on to be capped five times. However, since all those appearances were in friendlies, and as the midfielder holds a dual nationality passport, he has been cleared to change his FIFA nationality – meaning he is now eligible to play for the Central African Republic. He will subsequently miss the AFCON qualifiers against Guinea due to injury.
Berahino switched allegiance from England to Burundi and will begin his appearances from the East African side in Libreville when they face Gabon. Berahino played at six different levels for England before deciding to make the switch.
By Yaw Ofosu Larbi|3news.com|Ghana