When the Confederation of African Football, CAF decided to created the African Nations Championship, it had as main aim to provide a platform for home-based players to shine on the big stage.
However, the tournament is proving to be a strong nursery for African coaches who have taken the competition head on.
Out of the eight coaches who made it to the knockout stages of the African Nations Championship, seven of them are Africans who have proven they are cut out for the highest level.
Cameroon coach Martin Ndtongou Mpile has led the Intermediate Lions to their first ever semi final of the African Nations Championship after just a few weeks before the start of the competition. The gaffer has led Cameroon at various levels and is on course to picking up his first medal at the competition.
On his part, Morocco coach Houcine Ammouta, is looking to improve his growing reputation after a successful stint with Wydad Cassablanca. He may well be having a shot the men’s senior national team whenever the position becomes vacant.
Rwanda were a surprise package into the knockout round and this was thanks to their head coach Vincent Mashami who has equally had a successful stint with local side APR.
The DR Congo could not go past the quarter finals but their head coach Florent Ibenge is no pushover given the wealth of experience he has gathered over the years, even winning the competition in 2016. Barthélemy Ngatsono could also be satisfied of his strides with Congo, leading them to the quarter finals and only knocked out on penalties by a resilient Mali coached by the calm figure of Nouhoum Diagne.
The Malian coach is highly respected back at home, having coached the country’s three top sides Djoliba, Stade Malien and AS Real to relative success. He remains a sure candidate for the men’s senior national team whenever the job becomes available. Guinea coach Kanfoury Bangoura has also left his mark on the competition, leading his side into the knockout stages.
With the Africa Cup of Nations just one year from now, several football federations will be taking note of some of these coaches and it will be no surprise to see them return to Cameroon with a senior national team at the start of next year.