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The 2019 Africa Cup of Nations will kick off at the Cairo International Stadium tonight when host nation Egypt take on Zimbabwe in a tricky Group A encounter.
For the first time ever, the Afcon has grown from 16 to 24 nations.
Some of the biggest players in World football will carry the hopes of their nation on their shoulder in their bid to win the continent’s biggest prize.
Even more important, is the tactical brains behind each nation’s reason to believe success is possible.
We take a look at the profile of 24 coaches that will be looking to guide their team to AFCON glory,
DR Congo- Florent Ibengé (Congolese)
The 52 year old was appointed coach of DR Congo for their 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign.
He combines the duties with his role as coach of AS Vita Club. Ibenge is a former coach of Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua.
In his years with The Leopards of DR Congo, Ibenge took the national team to a third-place finish at the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon.
In 2016 he helped the team to become champions of the Championship of African Nations (CHAN) in Rwanda – the tournament which is only open to footballers who play in the country’s local leagues.
Egypt- Javier Aguirre (Mexican)
Javier Aguirre Onaindía was named manager of the Egyptian national team after Hector Cuper left following their 2018 World Cup group exit. He signed a four-year deal in 2019.
The former Mexican footballer, was born on December 1, 1958) and nicknamed El Vasco (The Basque).
Uganda- Sébastien Desabre (French)
The 42-year-old has had a whirlwind round of coaching posts since moving to Africa in 2010, with stints at clubs in Algeria, Angola, Cameroon, Egypt, the Ivory Coast, Morocco and Tunisia.
Uganda is his first national team job after being appointed to the post in December 2017. The Frenchman hails from Valence.
Zimbabwe- Sunday Chidzambwa (Zimbabwean)
Sunday Marimo ‘Mhofu’ Chidzambwa is by far Zimbabwe’s most successful coach who returned to the team for a third stint. He has been handed a year contract and opened for renewal based on his performance for the Warriors at the AFCON.
However, the 65-year-old now has a great opportunity to silence his detractors having masterminded the team’s maiden qualification to the Africa Cup of Nations after one and half decade absence.
Burundi- Olivier Niyungeko (Burundian)
A first major assignment on the international stage for the 48-year-old, who has been in charge of Burundi for the last three years and steered them to qualification for the first time.
He made his name domestically when he took club side Flambeau de l’Est to a maiden title in 2013, making them the first side from outside the capital Bujumbura to win the league.
He then served as assistant to Algerian Ahcene Ait-Abdelmalek before taking over as coach himself. (Reuters)
Guinea- Paul Put (Belgian)
The 63-year-old was coach of Gambia for four years from 2007 and then in 2012 took over Burkina Faso, leading them all the way to the 2013 Cup of Nations final, where they lost 1-0 to Nigeria in Johannesburg, and then narrowly close to a place at the 2014 World Cup finals.
Put worked as national coach of Jordan and Kenya after that before taking the Guinea job in March 2018.
Sentenced to two years in jail in his native Belgium for match-fixing during his days in charge of Lierse, he avoided prison on appeal. (Reuters)
Madagascar- Nicolas Dupuis (French)
The 51-year-old combines the job of being Madagascar boss with running the French fourth-tier club Fleury 91 and has taken the Malagasy to their first Cup of Nations finals, having started in the job just over two years ago.
Dupuis was a player in the amateur ranks in France and began his coaching career as player-coach at AS Yzeure. (Reuters)
Nigeria- Gernot Rohr (German)
The 65-year-old former Bayern Munich player was appointed Nigeria coach on a two year deal in August 2016 but had it extended after qualifying the Super Eagles for last year’s World Cup finals in Russia.
He spent 12 years as player and then coach at French club Girondins Bordeaux, taking them to the 1996 UEFA Cup finals where they lost to Bayern.
He was previously at the Cup of Nations finals as coach of Gabon in 2012 and Niger one year later. (Reuters)
Algeria- Djamel Belmadi (Algerian)
The 43-year-old French-born midfielder was on the books of Paris St Germain, Olympique Marseille, Manchester City and Southampton during his playing career and captained Algeria at the 2004 Cup of Nations finals.
His managerial career began at club level in Qatar and he took charge of their national team for a year but was fired after Qatar finished bottom of their group at the 2015 Asian Cup finals in Australia. (Reuters)
Kenya- Sébastien Migné (French)
The 46-year-old came from France to work as an assistant to Claude le Roy with the Democratic Republic of Congo squad at the 2013 Cup of Nations finals.
Migne then got a chance to run the under-20 side before going out on his own across the Congo river to become national coach of the Congo Republic in 2017.
He was named Kenya coach last May. (Reuters)
Senegal- Aliou Cissé (Senegalese)
He captained Senegal at the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea, where they beat holders France in the opening game and reached the quarter final.
His club career took in spells at Lille and Paris St Germain before playing in the English Premier League with Birmingham City and Portsmouth.
He coached Senegal’s under-23 team at the 2012 Olympic Games in London and then took over the senior side in 2015 and will be coaching at a second successive Cup of Nations finals.
The 43-year-old also qualified Senegal for the last World Cup finals in Russia.(Reuters)
Tanzania- Emmanuel Amunike (Nigeria)
Amunike sat on the bench for the duration of the 1994 Cup of Nations finals before Nigeria coach Clemens Westerhof thrust him into the starting line-up for the final against Zambia.
He took five minutes to open the scoring and netted a second to hand them the title.
It was the start of a playing career that took in spells at Sporting Lisbon and Barcelona and also saw him win Olympic gold.
As a coach, Amunike, now 48, won the under-17 World Cup with Nigeria in 2015 and was recruited by Tanzania last August. (Reuters)
Ivory Coast- Ibrahim Kamara (Ivorian)
The 53-year-old has worked his way through the coaching ranks at the Ivorian federation, previously taking the under-17 team to the world championships and also acting as assistant to former Elephants coach Marc Wilmots.
Kamara was handed the national team job one year ago on a contract that takes him through to June 2020. The decision to again put a local in charge came after failure to qualify for the last World Cup and a financial crisis at the federation. (Reuters)
Morocco- Herve Renard (French)
The 50-year-old Frenchman has won two of the last four Nations Cup titles and seeks an unprecedented third with three different countries.
He returned for a second spell as Zambia coach and took them to a surprise title in 2012 and was at the helm of the winners again in 2015, this time with Ivory Coast whose captain Yaya Toure praised him for his leadership ability.
Renard’s Morocco reached the quarter-finals at the 2017 Cup of Nations and he took them to last year’s World Cup in Russia, where they left a favourable impression despite exiting in the first round. (Reuters)
Namibia- Ricardo Mannetti (Namibian)
Mannetti is Namibian-born and played most of his career in neighbouring South Africa, where as a creative midfielder he won a league title with Cape Town club Santos.
He started coaching almost as soon as he hung up his boots, first at club level in Windhoek, then with Namibia’s under-20 juniors and, from 2013, the national team.
The 44-year-old is among the younger crop of coaches at the tournament in Egypt. (Reuters)
South Africa- Stuart Baxter (English)
This is a second spell in charge for the 65-year-old Englishman but the first time he has taken them to a major tournament.
He was appointed in 2004 with an eye on the 2010 World Cup, which the country was to host, but after blowing a strong position in the 2006 World Cup qualifiers Baxter left the job.
He went onto coach Finland but returned to South Africa to win two league titles with Kaizer Chiefs. He then returned to the national team post in 2017, again missing out on World Cup qualification after being in a good position. (Reuters)
Angola- Srdjan Vasiljevic (Serbian)
The 46-year-old Serbian was a surprise appointment by Angola at the end of 2017. He had little playing or coaching pedigree save for a spell as an assistant with the Serbian national side under Vladimir Petrovic.
But since arriving the former defender, whose club career took in spells in Romania and Kazakhstan, has seen Angola to their first Cup of Nations since 2013. (Reuters)
Mali- Mohamed Magassouba (Malian)
Magassouba has been ‘interim coach’ for more than two years since the departure of Alain Giresse but with the national federation in crisis no decision on a permanent appointment has been made.
The 61-year-old from Nara in the north of Mali made his name coaching in the former Zaire where he took Daring Club Motema Pembe to success in the 1994 African Cup Winners’ Cup.
He also coached TP Mazembe and the national team of DR Congo and worked at clubs in Gabon and Senegal. (Reuters)
Mauritania- Corentin Martins (French)
The 49-year-old former French international has taken five years to lift Mauritania from rank outsiders to first-time Cup of Nations participants.
Before he got the job, he had limited previous coaching experience with lower league Quimper and Stade Brest in the French league.
Martins, a midfielder with AJ Auxerre for most of his playing days, has a new contract to keep him with Mauritania to 2021. (Reuters)
Tunisia- Alain Giresse (French)
The Frenchman coaches a country at the Nations Cup for a fifth time after Gabon (2010), Mali (2012), Senegal (2015) and Mali again two years ago. He has also coached at club level in Morocco on top of spells with Toulouse and a brief run in charge at Paris St Germain. He is best known for his playing days when he was part of a dynamic French midfield which included Michel Platini, and that reached the semi-finals of the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. (Reuters)
Benin- Michel Dussuyer (French)
The 60-year-old is a Cup of Nations veteran having taken Guinea to the quarter-finals in 2004, then worked as deputy to fellow Frenchman Henri Michel when the Ivory Coast were runners-up in Egypt in 2006. In 2010 he coached Benin at the tournament in Angola.
He was back with Guinea in 2012, when they did not get out of the group stage, and again in 2015, when they got to the quarter-finals.
At the last edition in Gabon in 2017, he was in charge of the Ivory Coast, who flopped in the first round, precipitating his resignation. (Reuters)
Cameroon- Clarence Seedorf (Dutch)
The former Dutch international had a glittering club career but has struggled in the coaching ranks and was a surprise selection to head the ‘Indomitable Lions’ last August.
He won the Champions League with Ajax Amsterdam, Real Madrid and Inter Milan and competed at three European Championships and the 1998 World Cup. Seedorf started as a coach at former club AC Milan in 2014 but lasted six months and has since had even briefer spells with Shenzhen in China and Deportivo la Coruna in Spain. (Reuters)
Ghana- Kwesi Appiah (Ghanaian)
This is the third stint in charge of Ghana’s national team for Appiah, an international defender in his playing days with Asante Kotoko. He was a member of the 1982 Cup of Nations-winning squad although he did not feature in any match during the tournament.
The 58-year-old took Ghana to the 2013 Cup of Nations tournament and the 2014 World Cup in Brazil but was replaced afterwards. He returned to the job to replace Avram Grant two years ago.
Guinea-Bissau- Baciro Candé (Bissauan)
Homegrown coach Cande has become a national hero in the former Portuguese colony for engineering back-to-back qualification for the African Cup of Nations after decades of being one of the continent’s whipping boys.
The 52-year-old won nine titles in the small west African country with Sporting Bissau, five of them in successive years.
He had a previous stint as coach of the national team from 2003-2008.
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