Last year Sellas Tetteh became the first African to coach a team to glory at the FIFA U-20 World Cup when he took Ghana's Black Satellites to the title in Egypt. Today, Tetteh is in charge of the Rwanda national team, having signed a two-year contract earlier this year.
He joined the Wasps highly recommended, not only because of having won the U-20 World Cup, but because two years earlier he had led Ghana's Black Starlets to the semi-finals in the FIFA U-17 World Cup in the Korea Republic. After such success on the world scene, Tetteh is fully aware that his CV puts a certain kind of pressure on him to deliver in his new job with the relative minnows. "[Rwanda] have high expectations from me and I will do my best to fulfil these expectations. As I have already achieved something, they have the right to expect a bigger value from me. That just gives me the challenge to work very hard,” he told FIFA.com.
Tetteh has left his wife and two children in Ghana and brought no assistants with him to Rwanda, saying he wants to get local coaches involved and invested from the start. He has also been given fairly daunting several tasks by officials in the Central African country, the first of which is to qualify for the African Nations Championships. Also called the CHAN, it’s a competition open only to domestic-based players competing in their own national leagues and was introduced by the CAF in 2007 to give local players an opportunity to play in international competition.
After Eritrea withdrew in the first round, Rwanda will face Tanzania for a place in the finals in Sudan next year. "Obviously we also want to qualify for the Nations Cup in 2012 in Guinea and Gabon,” the coach explains. “Another task is to improve on the FIFA ranking. I have also been asked to look after the youth sides and try to get the Olympic team to London. My plan is to improve the game in Rwanda and develop it as much as possible."
Tetteh, who was born on 12 December 1956, spent much of his playing career in Nigeria, where he was on the books of several clubs, including African Continental Bank, Bendel United, Inwanyawu FC and Julius Berger. He also had a short playing stint in Bangladesh.
A stint with the stars
After ending his career with Inwanyawu FC, he returned to Ghana where he began his coaching career with Kotobabi Powerlines, whom he helped gain promotion. Tetteh then joined Liberty Professionals in 1996 and saw them promoted into the top flight in 1999. He was first drafted into the Ghana national team set-up in 2001 when he became an assistant coach for the U-17 side. A year later, he was in charge of the team.
In 2003, he took over the Ghana Olympic side and became an assistant to German Ralf Zumdick, who was then in charge of the Black Stars. He continued to work in the set-up under a succession of Black Stars coaches like Mariano Barreto, Ratomir Dujkovic and Claude de Roy. He was even entrusted with the senior team on an interim basis and was in charge for the preliminary round of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ qualifiers, where he comfortably took the Black Stars into the next round.
But when Africa’s first finals kick-off in South Africa on 11 June, Algerian Rabah Saadane will be the only African in charge of a team, even though six African sides will be playing. Tetteh, though, is not bitter about that. "It is very vital in this kind of situation that you have patience. Sometimes prophets are simply not respected in their own country. But I believe that kind of situation will change very soon. We have been looking at good performances from local coaches. They can easily measure up to European coaches, and I believe that if African coaches are working in the right environment and in a conducive atmosphere, they will be better than European coaches."
An African take on African finals
Tetteh, who has worked with many of the current players in the Black Stars squad, believes that an African team can do well at the World Cup finals. "I think an African team, or possibly even two, can and will reach the semi-finals. Africa has come of age. If [the teams] prepare well, and of course I can't say which African teams are preparing well, they will go very far."
The coach, who is hoping to be in South Africa as an observer, said that he believed there were three factors which African teams needed to observe to be successful this summer. "Firstly they have to prepare well, then they have to be motivated and lastly they have to be determined. I do not know about their preparations, but I do know that the African teams will be highly motivated and determined. I think the World Cup will be very good and show how strong African football is and that we, as a continent, can host the most important competition in the world."
Tetteh, who is also known as Borbor, which is a Yuroba expression that means Charlie, said that should Ghana do well, he will have a feeling of satisfaction as he would have contributed to their success. "I took them into the final round of qualifying and at the Nations Cup in Angola earlier this year, there were nine players in the squad who were with me in Egypt. There should be at least five in the World Cup squad. They will not be going there to make up the numbers."