The history books show that no foreign coach has ever led a country to success at a FIFA World Cup™. In recent years only the Dutchman Guus Hiddink has gone close taking Korea Republic to fourth place at the 2002 finals. Nonetheless, such records are there to be broken and there will be no less than 12 coaches in South Africa looking to put an end to the curse of the foreign coach.
Perhaps the most iconic of the twelve, and the only one to have already tasted success in the competition, is Carlos Alberto Parreira. At the age of 67 the Brazilian is preparing for his sixth FIFA World Cup as a coach. In addition to two forays with his native Brazil, in 1994 and 2006, this bona fide globetrotter coached Kuwait in 1982, United Arab Emirates in 1990 and Saudi Arabia in 1998.
“It would be very audacious to say that we have a chance of winning the World Cup, but I can safely say that we are prepared for anything that comes our way. We’ll do our utmost to make South Africans feel proud and will fight against each and every opponent. This is the message that I have been transmitting to my players, and they’ve picked up on it,” said the hosts’ coach with the Opening Match against Mexico fast approaching. It would seem that the Bafana Bafana squad are not alone in picking up on the coach’s clarion call. In a recent FIFA survey, 14 per cent of South Africans said they believe the host nation can go all the way, a figure bettered only by the 37 per cent who believe Brazil will take the title.
Another experienced coach who has taken the reins overseas is England supremo Fabio Capello. The Italian seems to have grasped the formula for quickly adapting to a team on foreign shores. “The most important thing is to understand where you are working,” he explained in a past interview with FIFA.com. “You have to understand the attitude of the players, of the country or the city. For example, in Milan people are more reserved; in Rome they are more passionate and so on. Only if you understand this can you opt for the most appropriate work methods to help the players and the team.”
Facts and Figures
Not only are Argentina and Germany two of the most respected nations in international football, they are also the countries that will provide the most coaches at 2010 FIFA World Cup. Aside from their own managers, two more from each country will be at the finals. Argentineans Marcelo Bielsa and Gerardo Martino will be in charge of Chile and Paraguay respectively, while German duo Ottmar Hitzfeld and Otto Rehhagel will be in the Switzerland and Greece dugouts respectively.
After impressing under Guus Hiddink in 2006, Australia have put their faith in another Dutchman in the shape of Pim Verbeek. Meanwhile, Colombian Reinaldo Rueda will be calling the shots for Honduras.
The first FIFA World Cup to be held in Africa will involve two coaches born on the continent: Algeria’s Rabah Saadane and Portugal’s Mozambique-born coach Carlos Queiroz. The remainder of the African sides have all entrusted foreign-born coaches to lead their bids for success on home soil.
Swede Lars Lagerback will be in the Nigeria hot-seat and has high hopes the Super Eagles can make a semi-finals appearance. “I have always been motivated by a will to win and to go a long way in tournaments, so I have no fear of failure. If you don’t believe in your own potential you have little right to be in the tournament. I think Nigeria have a good opportunity to go far,” he told FIFA.com.
Also coaching sides from Africa will be another Swede, Sven Goran Eriksson (Cote d’Ivoire), Frenchman Paul Le Guen (Cameroon) and the Serb Milovan Rajevac (Ghana). So is there more pressure, with it being the first tournament in Africa? Not for Rajevac: “It may be a bit of a cliche, but I don’t want any extra, unnecessary pressure. The only thing we’re concerning ourselves with is getting results: getting through the group stage and then the knockout rounds.” If Rajevac maintains that level of determination throughout the tournament, he might just get his name in those history books...