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Are African managers not good enough for Europe? 

517   //    14 Jan 2018, 14:30 IST

Sunday Oliseh - the harbinger of hope for African managers?

The best club football is played in the European major leagues, with the minor, especially the Portuguese and Belgian leagues, not that far behind. It is no surprise then, that the UEFA Champions League is the biggest club football spectacle in the world watched by millions of fans.

What makes the European game appealing is its power to lure a diverse pool of talent across continents. For decades now, African stars have set the European football stage alight, that it has become impossible to imagine European football without a dose of "African magic".

Legends of the likes of Lucas Radebe, Samuel Kuffour, George Weah, and Peter Ndlovu, to name a few, paved the way for stars such as Didier Drogba, Samuel Eto'o, Seydou Keïta and Yaya Touré.

Africa - the birthplace of incredible footballing talent

Like a spring that keeps giving, new talent from the mother continent has continued to emerge, captivating the world. While household names in world football like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mohamed Salah, Eric Bailly and Sadio Mané are at the peak of their careers, a new generation of African stars is already waiting on the wings to succeed them.

Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane are the flagbearers of African talent in the current generation

It goes without saying, African stars have stamped a huge footprint on European football from the minor to the major leagues, leaving no reason to wonder why African talent is in high demand.

We are not short of examples when it comes to African footballers who have done it all in Europe, including the pride of Africa George Weah, who claimed the prestigious FIFA World Player accolade in 1995.

It then boggles the mind why there are no examples of successful African football managers in Europe. The sad truth is, African managers are usually not even considered, irrespective of their qualifications.

Can Sunday Oliseh open the floodgates?

Sunday Oliseh, who recently got employed by Dutch Eerste Divisie side Fortuna Sittard, is the first and only African manager to be managing a senior team in the European Leagues. Credit, though, should be given to Fortuna Sittard for breaking new ground and giving Oliseh the opportunity to prove himself.


Oliseh himself has acknowledged how difficult it was for him to land the job. He admits that an African manager has to work twice or thrice as hard as other managers making it almost impossible to land a job.

Not the best time to be an African manager

It is so difficult that with the history of rejection most African managers suffered, not a lot are still willing to try. He has become the beacon of hope to open the doors for other African managers, but everything could hinge on his success.

He says it is a huge burden for him to carry on, knowing that his success or failure might determine the future of African managers in Europe. However, at the moment, he seems to be doing quite well, with his club sitting pretty at the top of the league, 20 games into the season.

Since his appointment, relegation battle-bound Fortuna Sittard and are now flying high. We just cross our fingers and hope that they can keep the momentum. It is time to break down racial barriers, and by not giving African managers an opportunity, we will never know what world football might be losing.

Just as Pep Guardiola and Zinedine Zidane achieved success as managers, I yearn for that day when an African Manager will lift the UEFA Champions League trophy. This dream might be a long distance away, but we have to start somewhere, and Oliseh's appointment, though in a lower division, is the first step in the right direction.

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