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Cliches and Stereotypes: A Tale of African Football

By Tosin Adesina @_Olutosin

I do not subscribe to clichés or stereotypes.

I do not fancy it and never will even when I think I should.

Do people behave in a similar way for a similar reason? That would mean a debate with subtle mannerisms to disprove and approve, both reflecting human behavior in a psychological space.

I once learned in my Psychology class, that Territoriality is one trait you cannot take away from humans. Afterall, nature and nurture are two elements that continue to be difficult to separate. Context will however remain key.

Is privacy an equivalent of territoriality? Does Territoriality define clichés, especially given when people stay in a similar environment and are subject to similar outcomes, the responses could vary?

In wildlife, this becomes a huge topic. The lion and its pride, the wolves and its hunting packs etc. It’s a revolving door that generates arguments in continuum.

Can be likened to the African football scene, a place where there is no clear depiction of a job title, especially in football (yes, that’s where we are going).

Technical Adviser, Head Coach etc., shouldn’t be difficult eh? Not here, where the simplest of words can have the most complex of meanings. What is the role of a technical adviser in a team? Who answers to him? A little digression, but it does help define the scope of this piece.

When a job description is vague, it creates a scenario whereby no matter how clear the targets are set, there would be an extreme difficulty in achieving set goals.

In England, the culture is to high Managers, who are involved in team decisions and play a role in day-to-day running of the club. When a Head Coach is hired in such a country, the job is streamlined to taking charge of first team duties and working in tandem with other coaches in the setup.

Clear enough, No?

The employee finds it more conducive in this scenario and there is a process that is followed to achieving such goals.

The case is different in Motherland.

The biggest Africa Cup Of Nations tournament finished only 19 days ago, But there have been nine coaching exits either by dismissal or mutual departures to avoid the impending axe.

There are a million ways to look at the situation.

However, this is the perfect time to ask: have the job titles in a way affected performance or team selections? Have the men in the dugout really been allowed to do their thing and wield their influence? What were the goals and targets when the jobs were handed out?

Stuart Baxter resigned after two years in charge of South Africa last week.

They recorded their first competitive win over Nigeria during his time. They defeated hosts Egypt in their backyard, reaching the knockout stages of the AFCON for only the second time and the first time on foreign soil since 2002.

However, it should be noted that it was a marriage of convenience, for Baxter never endeared himself to the fans. Diski Style is what the Bafana Bafana faithfuls know.


Under the Scot, they were far from it, despite possessing an abundance of talent. It might seem the only sensible departure given the targets set for him on his return.

Nevertheless, did SAFA not know of Baxter’s methods before he was appointed? Also, was he seemingly pushed out the door?

The dust had barely settled on Herve Renard’s departure as Morocco boss, he’d been snapped up by Saudi Arabia. While the Atlas Lions were favorites going into the competition, for all their beautiful football, they seemed to lack that bit of final edge when it mattered.


A perfect group stage was followed by a disaster of their own doing. But should the coach be allowed to leave for what is probably a wicked twist of fate and key players selling the team short? Again, what were the clear goals stated in the contract? Would things have changed had perhaps Morocco reached the Quarters?

Riccardo Mannetti and Emmanuel Amuneke are another unlucky bunch. It would take a crazy man to bet against what were Namibia and Tanzania’s eventual outcomes.

But their subsequent dismissals have left a lot to be desired. The Taifa stars hired Amuneke to help develop football with a three-year plan. Surely qualifying for the AFCON was only a silver lining.

Shouldn’t he have been allowed to carry on? Do a competition post-mortem and see where there were errors and mistakes? Then provide a way forward?

Javier Aguirre didn’t last 24 hours after his side’s elimination. Clarence Seedorf walked not long after with Patrick Kluivert, his assistant performing a U-turn to tell Fecafoot he could do the job. Sunday Chidzambwa left of his own accord before the inevitable axe drop.


The 2018 World Cup saw all five African teams crash out at the group stage. All five kept their coach bar Egypt with Hector Cuper taking the walk. Not surprisingly, they didn’t go far with the squad from that competition literally ripped in with new blood just been bedded in.

That being said, why sack Aguirre, this early? Nigeria, Tunisia and Senegal reaped rewards of their patience with semi-final finishes.

However, in a continent where players aren’t even taken care of and development is still light years away, African administrators should look themselves in the mirror before they pull the trigger on their coaches.

A clear job description, a clear goal and getting away with the clichés and stereotypes of a must-win mentality will be a good start. Just ask MFM Fc and Mamelodi Sundowns.

Ah, yes! They are African sides too.

What do you think? Drop your comments and share your thoughts with the world.

Author: For The Goal

You can keep in touch with us on most social media platforms @iamforthegoal

For The Goal
You can keep in touch with us on most social media platforms @iamforthegoal

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