FIFA WCQ: Four African natives push sides to Qatar

By Allan Damba
Photo courtesy of Getty Images

The notion that African home-grown coaches are not good enough has fast become a myth as four natives pushed their teams to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

Tunisia’s Jalel Kadri, Ghana’s Otto Addo, Cameroon’s Rigobert Song, and Senegal’s Aliou Cisse all respectively guided their sides to football’s biggest showpiece.

50-year-old Kadri eliminated Western African force Mali by a 1-0 aggregate after two legs to send the Eagles of Carthage to their sixth ever World Cup.

After a hard-fought 1-0 win in Bamako last Friday courtesy of Moussa Sissoko’s own-goal, Kadri’s side played it safe in Tunis on Tuesday as it ended 0-0 to help them book a spot in Qatar.

In the same vein, Ghana’s Addo, against all odds, eliminated bitter rivals Nigeria under the away goals rule after a 1-1 aggregate after two legs.

In Accra on Friday, the first encounter ended in a barren stalemate before Tuesday’s one-all draw in Abuja. The Black Stars netted first through Arsenal’s Thomas Partey.

William Troost Ekong’s equalizer from the spot was not enough to push the Super Eagles to sail to the November World Cup, with Ghana the luckier.

In more African success, Song continued to stamp his legendary status after coming back from a first-leg 1-0 loss to Algeria in Yaounde to eliminate the latter via away goals rule following a 2-2 aggregate.

Islam Slimani had given the Desert Foxes a first-leg advantage but Eric Maxim Choupo Moting and Toko Ekambi rallied the Indomitable Lions to a 2-1 win in the second leg where Ahmed Touba scored for the former.

To cap off African-Coach triumphs, Cisse once again showed his worth in terms of leading Senegal to remarkable success.

As he did in the recently concluded 2021 AFCON in Cameroon where he beat Egypt via penalties to win the title, he once again eliminated the Pharaohs via spot-kicks.

The latter had won in Cairo 1-0 but the Lions of Teranga revenged sweetly with the same scoreline after 120 minutes, before they went on to topple the Egyptians to book a World Cup ticket.

Morocco is the only side without a native coach that qualified for Qatar. Bosnian, Vahid Halilhodzic guided the Atlas Lions to a 5-2 aggregate victory over the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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