The 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar will be historic for the African continent as all five nations that have booked a ticket to the quadrennial extravaganza will be looked after by local coaches.
Morocco have appointed Walid Regragui as Atlas Lions head coach and now he will join a stellar cast of four other African coaches to lead their countries. This is a huge step in the growth of African coaches who now have the courage to take over at the highest level.
Walid Regragui, Morocco
The 47-year-old, a former Morocco international who has 45 caps for the national team, was recently appointed as Atlas Lions coach by the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF), succeeding Vahid Halilhodžić, who helped the team qualify would have.
He takes over the national side after a successful season in Morocco’s top flight, in which he led Wydad Athletic Club to the CAF Champions League title and also to the local league.
For the World Cup, Morocco has been drawn into Group F and will face Croatia, Belgium and Canada.
Aliou Cisse, Senegal
Senegal, the reigning African champions, have had a local coach since 2015, when Aliou Cissé took over. The decision paid off eight years later when the former national team captain guided them to their first-ever Africa Cup of Nations title and was also named Coach of the Year at the CAF Awards in July.
He will lead the Lions of Teranga to a World Cup for the second year in a row after guiding them to qualify for the 2018 Finals in Russia.
The Senegalese qualified after a first-leg defeat by Egypt’s Pharaohs, then coached by Portuguese tactician Carlos Queiroz. After a 1-1 draw in the aftermath, they won 3-1 on penalties.
Rigobert Song, Cameroon
Appointed on February 28, 2022, Rigobert Song will go down in history as the second Cameroonian coach to help Indomitable Lions qualify for the global flagship.
The first Cameroonian to sail the team to the World Championship was the late Léonard Nseke, who led the team to qualifying for the 1994 World Championship in the United States.
Song’s Cameroon qualified for Qatar after overcoming a 1-0 first-leg defeat by Algeria to win their match in Algiers 2-1 and qualify on away goals. Karl Toko Ekambi scored the decisive goal in stoppage time to lead the Lions to Qatar.
World Cup qualification proved to be the result he needed to silence the doubters who had already questioned his signing.
Jalel Kadri, Tunisia
Local hero Jalel Kadri helped Tunisia’s Carthage Eagles win the World Championship for the sixth time in their history.
Kadri was appointed as head coach of the Tunisia national team shortly after she was eliminated by Burkina Faso at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon. He launched a quick rebuilding mission and helped Tunisia recover from this disappointment and qualify for the World Cup.
The Tunisians prevailed against the young team from Mali with a narrow 1-0 aggregate result.
He is the third local tactician to help Tunisia qualify for the World Cup, after Abdelmajid Chetali (1978) and Nabil Maâloul (1998).
Otto Addo, Ghana
Ghana’s Otto Addo showed bold coaching to help the Black Stars win the World Cup after beating coveted Nigeria.
The former international was appointed head coach of the Ghana side shortly after they were eliminated in the group stage of the Africa Cup of Nations, taking over from Milovan Rajevac.
A 1-1 draw in Abuja after a 0-0 home draw in Kumasi secured Ghana a World Cup ticket against the odds.
The tactician, who is also an assistant coach at German Bundesliga side Dortmund, managed to devise a perfect tactical plan to outshine a hugely talented Nigerian side and will now have to prove it all as he leads the Ghana side in Qatar.
Who is Walid Regragui, the new Atlas Lions head coach?
Born in Corbeil-Essonne in the southern suburbs of France, Walid Regragui, 46, began his career at several French clubs including Toulouse, Ajaccio, Dijon and Grenoble. He also played for the Moroccan national team.
After retiring from football, Regragui began his coaching career in 2012-2013 as an assistant coach of the Moroccan national team under Rachid Taoussi. He was then head coach of FUS Rabat before moving to Qatar in 2020 to coach first division club Al Duhail.
He returned to Morocco in August 2021 and took over as head coach of Wydad Club Athletic, helping them to the league title and CAF Champions League in his first season.
The presence of five local coaches at the World Cup is a source of pride for Africa
The presence of the five African coaches at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar is a big step in the development of African football.
That’s proof enough that local know-how can also work well when given a chance. This will be an opportunity for the whole world to discover the skills of African tacticians and also a mark of recognition for the African Coaches Education Program at the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Pro License.
First launched in 2018, the program aims to achieve the CAF Coach Education System’s highest certification, the qualification of top coaches in the world.
Said license is reserved exclusively for coaches who are actively training at a professional level, have demonstrated a certain level of performance and achievement and have previously obtained a CAF A license or equivalent qualification recognized by the CAF.
More and more African coaches are showing enthusiasm at work in both CAF competitions with top division or league and national teams.