The 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar will be historic for the African continent as all five nations which have booked a ticket for the quadrennial extravaganza will be handled by local coaches.
Morocco have appointed Walid Regragui as the Atlas Lions head coach and now, he will join a stellar cast of four other African coaches to lead their countries. This is a massive step for the growth of African coaches, who have now borne the courage to take over at the highest level.
Walid Regragui, Morocco
The 47-year-old, a former Moroccan international who amassed 45 caps for the national team was recently appointed by the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF) as coach of the Atlas Lions, taking over from Vahid Halilhodžić who had helped the team secure qualification.
He takes over the national team after a successful season in the Moroccan top flight where he led Wydad Athletic Club to the CAF Champions League title and the local championship as well.
For the World Cup, Morocco have been drawn in Group F and will face off with Croatia, Belgium and Canada.
Senegal, the reigning African champions, have had a local coach since 2015 when Aliou Cissé was handed the mantle.
The decision paid off eight years later when the former national team captain led them to their first-ever Africa Cup of Nations title and was also named the coach of the year at the CAF Awards in July.
He will lead the Lions of Teranga to a World Cup for the second consecutive time, having led them to qualification for the 2018 showpiece in Russia.
The Senegalese earned qualification after turning around a first-leg loss to Egypt’s Pharaohs, then coached by Portuguese tactician Carlos Queiroz. They won 3-1 on post-match penalties following a 1-1 aggregate draw.
Rigobert Song, Cameroon
Appointed on February 28, 2022, Rigobert Song goes down in history as the second Cameroonian coach to have helped the Indomitable Lions qualify for the global showpiece.
The first Cameroonian to sail the team to the World Cup was the late Léonard Nseke, leading the team to qualify for the 1994 World Cup in the United States.
Song’s Cameroon qualified for Qatar after overturning a 1-0 first leg defeat at the hands of Algeria to win 2-1 in the corresponding fixture in Algiers and qualify on the away goals rule. Karl Toko Ekambi scored the vital goal in added time to take the Lions to Qatar.
The qualification for the World Cup proved to be the result he needed to silence the doubters who had already queried the decision to hire him.
Jalel Kadri, Tunisia
Local boy Jalel Kadri helped Tunisia’s Carthage Eagles to the World Cup for the sixth time in their history.
Kadri was appointed head coach of the Tunisian national team just after they were eliminated from the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon by Burkina Faso. He embarked on a quick rebuild mission and helped Tunisia rise from that disappointment and qualify for the World Cup.
The Tunisians waded off the young side of Mali to qualify with a slim 1-0 aggregate score.
He becomes 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 brave coaching mettle to aid the Black Stars to the World Cup after victory over the highly fancied Nigeria.
The former International was named head coach of the Ghanaian team shortly after they were eliminated from the Africa Cup of Nations in the group stages, taking over from Milovan Rajevac.
A 1-1 draw in Abuja after a 0-0 draw at home in Kumasi earned Ghana a ticket to the World Cup against all odds.
The tactician, who is also an assistant coach at German Bundesliga club Dortmund managed to put up a perfect tactical plan to outshine a hugely talented Nigerian squad and now has everything to prove when he leads the Ghanaian side out in Qatar.
Who is Walid Regragui the new head coach of the Atlas Lions?
Born in Corbeil-Essonne, in the Southern suburbs of France, Walid Regragui, 46, started his career playing for several French clubs including Toulouse, Ajaccio, Dijon, and Grenoble, He earned his caps for the Moroccan national team as well.
After retiring from football, Regragui began his coaching career as an assistant coach with the Moroccan national team in 2012-2013 under Rachid Taoussi.
He went on to become the head coach of FUS Rabat until 2020 when he moved to Qatar to coach top-tier side Al Duhail.
In August 2021, he returned to Morocco and took over as the head coach of Wydad Club Athletic, helping them to the league title as well as the CAF Champions League in his maiden campaign.
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 represents a giant step toward the development of African football.
This is enough proof that local expertise can also work well when and if given a chance. This will be an opportunity for the whole world to discover the ability of African tacticians and also a nod of approval to the training program for African coaches at the Pro License of the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
The program launched for the first time in 2018 aims to obtain the highest certification of the CAF coach education system, the qualification of top-level coaches in the world.
The said license is strictly reserved for coaches actively exercising at a professional level, having demonstrated a certain level of performance and success, and having previously acquired a CAF A license or an equivalent qualification recognized by CAF.
More and more African coaches have shown enthusiasm at work both in CAF competitions with first division clubs or in the league, as well as in national teams.