Coaches learn from the best
© AFP

2010 FIFA World Cup™-winning coach Vicente Del Bosque delighted top coaches of Africa with an absorbing presentation on the secrets behind Spain’s victory in July’s Final.

The affable Del Bosque, together with Sports Director Fernando Hierro and fitness coach Javier Miñano, travelled as FIFA’s special guests to Cairo to present his thoughts, philosophy and winning formula to the national coaches and technical directors of the 53 national teams of Africa.

The audience, which included the likes of Alain Giresse, Rabah Saadane, Gernot Rohr, Paulo Duarte, Michel Dussuyer and past CAF Africa Cup of Nations-winning coach Yeo Martial, was captivated by the presentation from the Spanish coach, who outlined in some detail the reasons for Spain’s triumphs at South Africa 2010 and UEFA EURO 2008 and their elevation to the top of the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking.

It proved the high point of the three-day seminar (13-15 October) for the technicians organised by FIFA and CAF. Participants spent their time in highly productive meetings, discussing ways to better the game on the continent, all the while listening to top experts dissect the lessons from the recent FIFA World Cup finalS.

CAF President, Issa Hayatou, Egypt FA Chairman, Samir Zaher and FIFA Director Thierry Regenass opened the conference. CAF’s Football Development Director and FIFA TSG member Abdel Moneim Hussein went through the highlights of the FIFA World Cup, UEFA Technical Director Andy Roxburgh presented a lecture on the current trends in the game while former Swiss international Jean-Paul Brigger, head of FIFA's Technical Study Group, highlighted the changes in the way football was played at South Africa 2010.

Coaches from the six African countries who participated at the FIFA World Cup finals also debated the lessons they had learned, analysing their preparations, the tournament itself and the lessons drawn from the four weeks in South Africa in June and July.

We stayed with our style of play, we didn’t change anything and that gave confidence back to the players.
Vicente Del Bosque, Spain coach.

Lessons of a champion
Del Bosque kept the audience enthralled with his analysis, praising the work Spain has done at youth level and admitting he has had the good fortune to benefit from a steady supply of talented players who had come through the ranks. He told the African coaches that improved training infrastructure and the education of technical staff was also vital in his winning formula.

In planning for the World Cup, Del Bosque cited the country’s perfect record in the preliminaries ahead of the 2010 finals and the experience gained at the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2009, even though Spain were knocked out in the semi-final in a shock loss to the USA.

He told coaches that he had sought a “good balance between training, matches and relaxation” and had made a number of changes of hotels and training camps to avoid his squad becoming bored. Training in the build up to the FIFA World Cup and during the tournament was key, he added. “The players have to enjoy it, it is an important part of the psychological aspect, where we focused a lot to try and avoid mental tiredness,” he said. He also cited a well-disciplined and happy group of players as a massive bonus in his overall working.

Del Bosque then gave some sage advice on the issue of leadership to the coaches: “The style of a leader cannot be learned by reading a book. It depends on your character, personality, education and experience. There are not two coaches who are the same,” he told the seminar. “Whereas in developing your strategy for playing the game, there can be influence from others, the leadership style of each individual is personal. It is important to listen, to understand and interpret the silence of the players. Some say that coaching is more an art than a science.”

Del Bosque drew some smiles from the audience when he suggested that Spain’s loss to Switzerland in Durban in their opening match at the tournament actually turned out to be the perfect panacea for the rest of the event in South Africa. “We did not look for scapegoats after the defeat or blame anyone,” he said. “We stayed with our style of play, we didn’t change anything and that gave confidence back to the players.”

All participants, who thanked world football’s governing body for the effort in arranging this historic get-together, appreciated  the seminar. “What a brilliant idea,” enthused new South Africa coach Pitso Mosimane. “It’s so good to be able to learn from some of the best in the game."