CAIRO, Egypt, Jun 15 – For only the fifth time in the 32 editions of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), the final will be contested by two African coaches with Senegal’s Aliou Cisse and Algeria’s Djamel Belmadi, both former captains of their teams facing off in Friday night’s final.
The last time this happened was in 1998 when Egypt led by Mahmoud El Gohary beat South Africa, then coached by Jomo Sono in the final in Burkina faso.
Belmadi was Algeria’s captain when Algeria reached the quarter finals of the 2004 showpiece in Tunisia while Cisse skippered the Lions of Teranga in their unsuccessful quest for the title in 2002 and in 2006 as well.
“I think it is a beautiful thing to have two local coaches in a final. It shows that the work we are doing is seen by everyone,” Cisse who also led Senegal in the 2018 World Cup in Russia stated.
Belmadi, who says he was friends with Cisse during their stint in France noted that it’s a great achievement for the African game to have home grown coaches face off in a final, and this he says is a message to those responsible for football in the continent to trust the local coaches.
“This is a great message we have sent to the people responsible for football. I think the decision makers should think more about this and trust the young African coaches,” Belmadi said.
He added; “I think it will be a great final. I knew Aliou from a long time back; we came from the same place in France and we used to play against each other a lot. He has been on the job for four years now and I think he has done amazing. To play this final now against my friend is amazing,”
While Belmadi will be celebrating his one year anniversary as Les Fennecs coach in August, Cisse was appointed to the hot seat in 2015 after being elevated from the Under-23 team.