Is Zidane Ready to Take on the Notorious AFCON Managerial Rollercoaster?

Certainly, the injection of experienced, high-profile managers such as Zinedine Zidane and Jurgen Klopp into the African national teams would increase the level of expertise and professionalism in African football. Their international experience combined with their successful track records at top European clubs would undoubtedly bring a new level of discipline and strategic thinking to the teams they would manage. Additionally, these high-profile appointments could enhance the global reputation of African football and attract additional interest and investment into the sport across the continent.
Ed Dove, Special to ESPNJan 26, 2024, 09:13 AM ETCloseEd Dove is a writer and scout who possesses a deep and unwavering passion for African sport, politics, and literature. He can be found on Instagram: @EddyDove22, and on Facebook: @EddyDoveAfrica.

The past week has seen a spate of dismissals of the AFCON managers as prominent teams have been eliminated during the group stage. Hosts Ivory Coast even terminated their coach while still having to play in the knockout stage.

Job security for football managers is seldom stable, and the shocking outcomes and controversy in the Ivory Coast have made this a particularly harsh time to be a national team manager in Africa.

Here, ESPN evaluates the departed head coaches, their departures, whether they merited them, and their ideal replacements.

Algeria lost 1-0 to Mauritania, resulting in their elimination from the remainder of the competition. Djamel Belmadi was always going to find it difficult to retain his position after a similarly disappointing campaign in 2022. The head coach himself admitted that his future would be discussed on his return to Algeria.

Conclusion: Departure via mutual consent.

Deserved it- Yes. Although Belmadi previously spearheaded Algeria’s 2019 Nations Cup success in Egypt and oversaw a lengthy undefeated streak, his failure during the last AFCON overshadows these achievements.

Ideal replacement: Zinedine Zidane, an Algerian of Kabyle descent, who has excelled in the sport as a player and manager. He is yet to win the Africa Cup of Nations. It is unclear if he would be interested in a fresh challenge away from European football.

Ivory Coast suffered their most humiliating defeat at home against Equatorial Guinea, culminating in a 4-0 loss. Even though they narrowly qualified for the knockout stage, the Ivorian federation dismissed head coach Jean-Louis Gasset.

Conclusion: Gasset’s dismissal was warranted due to his previous lack of experience in African football.

Ideal replacement: Although former international midfielder Emerse Fae was announced as an interim replacement, the failure of the Ivorian Federation to convince the French Federation to loan Herve Renard for the duration of the tournament is evident.

In summary, the Ghanaian Sports Ministry announced plans to restructure Ghanaian football top to bottom after their tournament failure. It is unclear who the new head coach will be, but a home-grown coach is expected.

After remarkable progress in recent years, The Gambia were eliminated in the first round of the competition. Their smiling Belgian coach Tom Saintfiet has also resigned despite being under contract until 2026.

It is speculated that for The Gambia, the ideal Tom Saintfiet replacement would be Tom Saintfiet himself.

Tunisia’s elimination after failing to beat South Africa concluded their worst AFCON campaign since 2002. Head coach Mondher Kadri resigned after the tournament.

It is suggested that Gennaro Gattuso or Diego Simeone could potentially instill the lost courage and determination of the team.

Tanzania’s Adel Amrouche was suspended for eight matches by CAF and subsequently by the Tanzania Football Federation due to his inflammatory comments about Morocco. His assistant, Hemed Suleiman Morocco, replaced him, and the East Africans were eliminated in the opening round.