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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 November 2005, 15:54 GMT
British graveyard?
Martin Davies
BBC Sport

Former South Africa coach Stuart Baxter
Englishman Stuart Baxter was coach of South Africa for 18 months

There is no doubting the British influence when it comes to football in Africa.

Premiership replica shirts are worn by all and sundry across the continent and, at weekends, bars are filled with crowds supporting Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool et al.

Yet when it comes to coaching in African football, British coaches have fared poorly compared with those from other parts of Europe, notably France and the former Yugoslavia.

On Tuesday, Stewart Baxter became the latest British coaching 'casualty' when he parted company with the South African Football Association after just 18 months in charge of Bafana Bafana.

Foreign coaches to win the Nations Cup
1959 - Pal Titkos, Hungary - Egypt
1962 - Slavko Milosevic, Yugoslavia - Ethiopia
1968 - Ferenc Csanad, Hungary - DR Congo
1970 - Jiri Starost, Czech Republic - Sudan
1974 - Blagoje Vidinic, Yugoslavia - DR Congo
1976 - Gheorge Mardarescu, Romania - Morocco
1980 - Otto Gloria, Brazil - Nigeria
1984 - Rade Ognanovic, Yugoslavia - Cameroon
1986 - Mike Smith, Wales - Egypt
1988 - Claude Leroy, France - Cameroon
1994 - Clemens Westerhof, Holland - Holland
2000 - Pierre Lechantre, France - Cameroon
2002 - Winfried Schafer, Germany - Cameroon
2004 - Roger Lemerre, France - Tunisia

Baxter took over one of the hottest seats in South African sport at a time when Bafana Bafana had lost much of its charm and was under pressure to take the team to next year's World Cup finals.

But the Englishman struggled to make an impact despite being in charge of a team with huge resources at its disposal.

Which is why failure to qualify for Germany 2006 left the 2010 hosts with plenty of egg on their faces.

Bafana Bafana only scrapped through to the African Nations Cup finals after finishing third in their qualifying group.

Granted, coaching any national football team is always a complicated affair but the failure of British coaches in Africa is quite staggering.

The achievements of Baxter and his colleagues before him do not even begin to register at all on football's Richter's Scale.

At the 2004 Nations Cup in Tunisia, the only British coach was Mick Wadsworth, who saw his DR Congo side go out in the first round.

When scanning the list of nine foreign nationals to have led African teams to Nations Cup success, you will find that only one of them - Mike Smith - is a Briton.

Welshman Smith was in charge of Egypt when the Pharaohs won the title on home soil in 1986.

The other Briton to have enjoyed notable success in Africa was Ian Porterfield who took Zambia to the 1994 Nations Cup, losing to Nigeria in the final.

While the British have floundered, coaches from France, Holland and Yugoslavia have prospered with various teams across the continent.

And while Baxter, Wadsworth and even Smith are not household names in Britain, two former coaches of the French national team, Roger Lemerre and Henri Michel, have steered Tunisia and Ivory Coast to next year's World Cup finals.

Michel is now in charge of his third African nation and his compatriot Phillipe Troussier, who recent took charge in Morocco, has years of experience with both club and national sides, even qualifying English-speaking South Africa to the World Cup.

This is in stark contrast to the British coaches who have barely got to know their way home from the training ground before departing.

But why is this so? After all, British coaches have been employed in Africa because they were deemed good enough.


If you have a theory as to why British coaches have failed to make their mark in Africa, share it with us by using the form on the right.


The reason comes down to the calibre of British coaches coming to Africa. We get established coaches from other countries in Europe and in some cases former national team coaches. In the case of British coaches, they think having gone through a training course and getting a certificate gives them a ticket to glory in Africa.
Nyandega Angiro, Kenya

I do not think the situation for British coaches is as bleak as Martin paints it. Cairo giants Ahly won the league title with Briton Alan Harris for two consecutive years and left the club on good terms. The facts presented by Martin could be explained by the fact that not many British coaches will take the chance to coach in Africa. We hear of success stories from French, Dutch and German coaches because there are so many of them in Africa. When British coaches take the plunge en mass, I am sure we will hear better stories.
Hosam Badr, USA

The best answer to the question is to look at the Premiership. Apart from Man Utd, the big guns (Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Spurs...) have all looked to the European continent for coaching talent. Even the national team is not exempt. Having voted so emphatically for foreign coaches themselves, the British can best supply the answer to the question of why their coaches have failed woefully in Africa!
Christopher Ilodibia, Nigeria

The reason why British coaches can't cut it in Africa is simple - their style of play. Africans, like South Americans, play touch and move football. But the typical British coach loves aggressive play, typified by the long ball style. Africans are are not used to this style of play. It is the same reason why Brazilians don't make it in England except when they play for a team like Arsenal, who have a very latin style of play.
Kwadwo Frempong, England

British coaches have not succeeded (so far) in Africa because the continent's football is mostly based on flair and improvisation. Rather than appreciate this, most British coaches try to adopt a more rigid style of play, which is ill-suited to the players' strengths. This results in a very boring style of football which is anathema to us Africans. We prefer players who are great dribblers and can manipulate a game with trickery rather than merely charging about like a bullish rugby player.
Don Alessio, UK

Managing an African side now demands hardwork and British coaches probably lack the determination to do well in Africa.
Ayo Orabiyi, Merseyside,UK

English coaches are useless, period. The fact that they hire a foreigner to manage their own national side shows they have no confidence in themselves.
Lungameni Indileni, Namibia

It certainly takes more than teaching players how to launch hopeless long balls to coach a talented African side. The British style of play, by any stretch of imagination, does not suite African players who always seem to be very talented and skillful. Hiring a British coach to manage an African side is just akin to asking an impotent man to impregnate one's wife. The know-how is there but the working tools are no where to be found.
Victor Nwokocha, USA

British Managers who comes to Africa want structures to be put in place for them to start getting instant results. The terrain and conditions in our continent are absolutely different as to what pertains in their country. With time, they will definately start adjusting to conditions here.
Michael Yaw Doe, Accra, Ghana

African players find full expression under Dutch, Brazilian, French and East European coaches.They not only allow the players to express themselves on the field of play but tacitly endorse the excesses of the players which invariably massages their egos. British coaches need to do more to undestand the mentality of an average African player.
Adekola Kolawole, Nigeria




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SEE ALSO
Three on shortlist for SA job
17 Nov 05 |  African
Wadsworth hits out
09 Feb 04 |  World Football


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