When Iran needed a new coach ahead of the World Cup, they looked to experience. Carlos Queiroz is just three games away from his current stint in Iran, but he already knows his players well having coached them for almost 100 games during his previous stint, including at the 2014 and 2018 World Cups.
Queiroz, who has led seven national teams on four continents, spent more time in the international dugout than any other manager at the 2022 World Cup. This will be his fourth World Cup, as he also led Portugal in 2010.
In the opposing technical box for Iran’s opening match at the 2018 World Cup was Frenchman Hervé Renard. He then ruled Morocco. He now coaches Saudi Arabia, his fifth national team. Renard, best known for his success in the African Cup of Nations with Zambia and Ivory Coasthelped Saudi Arabia qualify comfortably for the World Cup, topping a group including Australia and Japan.
The coaches of the other three Asian teams present at the World Cup also have a lot of experience. South Korea head coach Paulo Bento coached his home country Portugal in 2014, and Australian Graham Arnold coached the Socceroos for more than 50 games on three occasions and coached assistant for Australia at the 2010 World Cup.
Japan’s Hajime Moriyasu and Qatar head coach Félix Sánchez also coached their teams for over 50 games each and coached their youth teams before securing the top job. Sánchez has worked across the age groups starting at Under-19 level and as a result has coached Qatar’s top players such as Akram Afif and Almoez Ali for almost a decade now.
The head coaches of Asian participants in the World Cup have on average more than 100 matches of international experience. African coaches have much less experience, with one exception: the Senegalese Aliou Cissé.
Cissé has been in charge of Senegal since 2015, taking them to the 2018 World Cup and winning the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations. He is one of the most experienced coaches at the World Cup, but the coaches of the other four participants Africans have much less experience.
For the first time, each The African team at the World Cup will be led by a local coach.
But this trend is very recent, with Morocco, Tunisia, Ghana and Cameroon all changing head coaches in 2022.
In three of those four cases, the current head coach was promoted from the assistant position or from one of the youth teams. Moroccan Walid Regragui is the exception, leaving Wydad AC in August to replace Vahid Halilhodžić.
If ever a coach were to feel mistreated, it would be Halilhodžić, who qualified for the World Cup with Ivory Coast, Algeria and Japan before repeating the feat with Morocco, but three times , he was replaced before the tournament. The only time he managed to manage at the World Cup was when he reached the round of 16 with Algeria in 2014.
After landing the job in Morocco, Regragui quickly Reinstated key player Hakim Ziyechwho had been let go by Halilhodžić, but only coached the team for two friendlies in September before this international break.
The other three head coaches were appointed just before the high-pressure World Cup qualifiers.
The Ghanaian Otto Addo replaced the Serb Milovan Rajevac, himself in post for just over four months. Addo was born in Germany but of Ghanaian descent, and when qualifying for the World Cup, he quickly sought players in Europe who were eligible for Ghana like Iñaki Williams of Athletic Bilbao and Tariq Lamptey of Brighton and Hove Albion.
Rigobert Song and his Cameroon team qualified for the World Cup in spectacular fashion, scoring in the very last minute of extra time to beat Algeria. Like Addo, Song has added the likes of Georges-Kévin Nkoudou, Enzo Ebosse and Bryan Mbeumo to his team.
Tunisia’s head coach, Jalel Kadri, replaced a local coach, Mondher Kebaier. Kadri has lost just one of his eight games in charge, and that loss was against World Cup favourites, Brazil.
The African nations present at the World Cup hope that their new coaches’ knowledge of their local players will make up for the lack of experience.
France head coach Didier Deschamps, the longest-serving coach at this World Cup, had already coached the world champions for around 50 matches at the top of the 2018 World Cup. Croatians, Zlatko Dalić, meanwhile, was only named one game before the World Cup play-offs, like Rigobert Song, Otto Addo and Jalel Kadri.
They hope to match Croatia’s success and show that local coaches can bring success to Africa on the biggest stage.