When Algeria locks horns with Senegal at the Cairo International Stadium this Friday (19 July 2019) to determine the new king of African football, there would be a historic milestone on the sidelines.
A local coach would be crowned champion whatever the result is. Djamel Belmadi (Algeria) and Aliou Cisse (Senegal) are competing for the Holy Grail of African football, and one of them will join the prestigious list of African coaches who led their sides to the continental glory.
Over 32 editions of Africa’s showpiece football tournament, this is just the fifth final that witnesses two local (African) coaches on helm of the finalists’ technical staff. Just four times before the final was an All-African coaches affair.
In 1962 hosts Ethiopia coached by legend Yidnekatchew Tessema won their first (and only to date) AFCON title, defeating Egypt 4-2 in the final. The Pharaohs were then coached by the duet of Mohamed El Guindy and Hanafy Bastan.
Ghana won the 1965 edition, beating hosts Tunisia 3-2. The Black Stars coach Charles Gyamfi had his second successive AFCON glory then, defeating Tunisian counterpart Mokhtar Ben Nacef.
Another Ghanaian, Fred Ousam-Duodu led the Black stars to the 1978 title at home, defeating Uganda led by local legend Pete Okee 2-0 in the final.
And in 1998, Egyptian Mahmoud El Gohary became the first man to win AFCON as a player (1959) and coach. He guided the Pharaohs to their fourth title in Burkina Faso, defeating South Africa, coached by local icon Jomo Sono 2-0 in the final.
Overall, 11 local coaches had won 15 AFCON titles in the previous 31 editions. Ghana’s Gyamfi and Egypt’s Hassan Shehata had each won record three titles, with Nigerian Stephen Keshi being the latest to achieve that in 2013. Either Belmadi or Cisse will join this prestigious list comes Friday night.