CURSE OF THE AFRICAN FOOTBALL ADMINISTRATOR

Democratic Republic of Congo coach Claude Leroy has threatened to quit barely a fortnight before his team faces Cameroon in a World Cup qualification game on 2nd June, 2012.  The ire of the Frenchman has been drawn by the chaotic and plainly amateur administrative arrangements surrounding camping of the national team.  The Leopards were originally supposed to have camped in Ajaccio, France but the arrangements had to be revised on financial grounds.  The new plans entailed that the team would train in Lubumbashi but moving to the city proved to be a logistical hurdle because of unavailability of cash which the national treasury was yet to release. 

Little wonder that the country's striker Lomana LuaLua, lately of Blackpool Football Club in England, has turned down the invitation of Leroy to return to the fold unless the administrators of the game in the DR Congo change and become more organised. The fortunes of the Leopards have nose-dived down the years and they are now ranked 124th in the World.  Their last appearance at the Africa Cup of Nations was in 2006 when Leroy was at the helm in his first stint with the team. 

Claude Leroy's predecessor, Robert Nouzaret, quit in 2011 a few days before a crucial African Nations Cup qualifier match against Senegal.  Nouzaret could not countenance interference in the selection of players.  He had been directed to select only local players for the key clash against Senegal and not professional players who were not playing regular football in Europe. Claude Leroy, with his many years of coaching different national teams in Africa, must have known that he was inheriting a poisoned chalice by agreeing to tutor the Leopards.

While DR Congo's self-inflicted problems may seem comical in nature, Central African Republic's failure to pay its Coach, Jules Accorsi his salary since September, 2011, is inexcusable.  Logically, the Frenchman has decided to walk out on his contract after his pleas to governement seemingly fell on deaf ears - when not even a portion of his pay could be settled.  The country will have a new coach leading it as it squares out with Botswana and Ethiopia on 2nd and 9th June respectively and Egypt  for the African Nations Cup qualifier later in June.

Knowing the salary problems that surround expatriate coaching jobs in Africa, newly named coach for Senegal's national team, Pierre Lechantre demanded to be paid six months’ salary in advance! When the Senegal Football Federation authorities counter-offered to pay three months in advance, he decided he did not want to be coach of the Lions of Teranga anymore.  He had just been named as coach in April, 2012. The basis of demanding to be paid half-a-year's wages in advance was because Lechantre was aware that the Senegalese federation was split in the choice of coach between him and Bruno Metsu, who led Senegal to a quarter final finish in the 2002 World Cup in Korea/Japan.

Some strange contractual problems seem to have conspired to blight Mali's preparations for the World Cup Qualifiers.  Mali’s French Coach, Alain Giresse refused to sign a new contract because of unusual conditions that came with it where the football federation wanted, among others, to approve the squad. Again, interim coaches will be in charge of Mali for the World Cup qualifiers.

Meanwhile in Cameroon, it is not the coach, Denis Lavigne, who is refusing to sign a contract, but the Minister of Sports who is reluctant to append his signature to the document.  Denis Lavigne was named in his position in October, 2011.

Perhaps surprisingly, Herve Renard, the coach of the reigning champions of Africa, the Chipolopolo of Zambia is yet to sign a new contract and is expected to do so later in the month.  Matters surrounding his contract have insensitively been played out in the public with the Sports Minister repeatedly arm-twisting the mining companies to offer to pay Renard's salary and that of his assistants.

It defies logic how African teams leave serious issues surrounding coaching staff unresolved until just before serious tournaments or important do-or-die games.  Just before the 2010 World Cup, some African teams appointed 'big name' non-African coaches quite late in the day and the results showed - only one African team made it to the second round.

African football administrations can take a leaf from the Danish Football authorities where Morten Olsen has been in charge of the Danish national team for the last 12 years.  He has recently extended his contract to 2014 in the hope of leading the Danes to the World Cup in Brazil before bowing out gracefully.  The perennial amateur administrative lapses and the tendency by administrators to poke their fingers in the selection of players, only works to undermine the progress that African football is making on the pitch. 

Gilbert is the editor of newafricanfootball.com.

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