It is a measure of the growing stature of African football that leading international coaches are being attracted to take charge of the continent's football teams.

The highest profile coach appointed to date is the former FIFA World Cup™ winner Carlos Alberto Parreira, who made a triumphant start at the weekend to his new career at the helm of the South African national side.

His new team won 3-0 in Chad on Saturday in one of 22 qualifying matches played at the weekend in the 2008 CAF Africa Cup of Nations - the best start by any of the country's 14 coaches in the last 15 years.

Parreira's debut came at the same time as another former FIFA World Cup winner Berti Vogts took charge of Nigeria's Super Eagles for the first time.

Frenchman Robert Nouzaret returned to the Africa arena as the new coach of Guinea and there were debuts, too, for a Dutchman in charge of Mozambique, a Brazilian with the Cape Verde Islands and a Frenchman in Madagascar.

Samba man starts with style
Parreira, who coached Brazil to the 1994 FIFA World Cup title, has been tasked with building a team for the country's hosting of the 2010 World Cup finals. With this in mind he was expected to throw a collection of green-horned youngsters into the fray almost from the start.

But before turning to the younger generation, the canny Brazilian first wants to ensure qualification for the 2008 African Nations Cup finals in Ghana and had a virtually full- strength side on display for the potentially tricky trip to Ndjamena.

South Africa quickly overpowered their opponents although Sibusiso Zuma missed two gilt edged chances early on. He got onto the score sheet in the end, after Surprise Moriri and Delron Buckley had given the country a 2-0 half-time lead.

Parreira, 64, said he had been both relieved and delighted at the debut win. "It's the right way to get the ball rolling," he said as he pressed home the idea of starting to builds momentum for the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals.

Berti unhappy
Vogts knows he has great potential with Nigeria, but says he was disappointed with their first foray under his tutelage on Saturday.

Nigeria managed to defeat Uganda in their Group Three game at Abeotuka and their 1-0 triumph stretched their lead in the standings to five points, but the German coach was still dissatisfied.

"It was not a good performance at all," he told reporters after the game. "I only saw about 25 minutes of good football from my team. I need to see a lot better."

The 60-yeart-old Vogts played for West Germany when they won the 1974 FIFA World Cup title and later coached the German team to the UEFA EURO 96 title. He then went on to work in Kuwait and Scotland. 

Nice opening for Nouzaret
Nouzaret has had two previous stints in charge of Cote d'Ivoire's national side but is now at the helm of a talented Guinea side, who were quarter-finalists at the last African Nations Cup finals in Egypt just over a year ago.

The former St. Etienne boss took over from compatriot Patrice Neveu, who was relived of his duities following a major setback in October when Guinea were beaten in the Cape Verde Islands.

Nouzaret has put this side back on track with their first win of the campaign, a 2-0 triumph in the Gambia on Saturday.

While the veteran Frenchman did his work off the field, on the pitch it was the sublime skill of Pascal Feinduono that ensured the Syli Nationale are back in contention for qualification.

Feinduono got the second goal after providing the opener just after half-time for the French-born Kaba Diawara.

Smart Mart pleased with draw
Mart Nooij's tenure at the helm of Mozambique got off to a positive beginning with a 1-1 draw in Burkina Faso, although the Mambas remain in bottom place in Group 7..

However, debut matches for Jean Paul Rossignol (Madagascar) and Ricardo Rocha (Cape Verde Islands) ended in defeat.

Rossingnol, who once worked as a member of the technical team for the French national side, saw his Malagasy players taken apart by the powerful Cote d'Ivoire, coached by former German international Uli Stielike.

The Ivorians won 3-0 in Antananarivo on Sunday, prompting Rossignol to lament: "I'm not satisfied with the result we achieved but I suppose there were many lessons for my players to learn."

Rocha saw the Cape Verdians beaten 2-0 in Algeria, but they did hold out for the first hour before goals from Noureddine Daham and Mehdi Mniri ensured Algeria stayed top of the Group 8 standings.

Keshi's comeback
Stephen Keshi's first competitive game back in charge of Togo saw them beat Sierra Leone 3-1 in Lome with two goals from Emmanuel Adebayor, who was then suspended by the Togo Football Federation the next day for more clashes with officials.

Keshi was the coach that qualified to go for the 2006 FIFA World Cup finals, but was dismissed before the tournament in Germany. He returned last month as coach for the 2-2 draw against Cameroon in a friendly international.

For Rwanda's German coach Michael Nees there was nothing but frustration as his Rwanda side lost a third game in Group 5. They were beaten 3-1 in Equatorial Guinea at the end of what Nees described as "a catastrophic trip".

It included having to find mattress and couches for his players to sleep on in Malabo, due to the fact that that when the Rwanda team arrived there was no one to meet them and the local hotel did not have their booking.