Robson Sharuko in CAIRO, Egypt
SUNDAY Chidzambwa is just one of two coaches, who were at the 2004 AFCON finals where the Warriors announced their arrival at the big stage, who still find themselves in the trenches dealing with the challenges of guiding a team at this Nations Cup show.
The 67-year-old gaffer is also the only coach, who was in charge of his team at that 2004 AFCON finals, who finds himself playing that role, for the same side, at this Nations Cup jamboree.
Two of his fellow African coaches, who guided teams at the 2004 AFCON finals — April “Styles’’ Phumo, who was in charge of Bafana Bafana, and Cecil Jones Attuquayefio, who was in charge of Benin — died along the way. Christian Chukwu, the first Nigerian captain to win the AFCON trophy, guided the Super Eagles at the 2004 AFCON finals but, after taking charge of the teams in his country’s domestic league, has been battling with serious health complications.
Recently, the Nigerian Football Federation and billionaire businessman, Femi Otedo, teamed-up to finance his trip for him to get specialist treatment in the United States.
Egyptian gaffer Mohsen Saleh, the other African coach who had the honour of guiding his national team at the 2004 AFCON finals, hasn’t been active since being dismissed by Libya in 2010 because of a poor run of results.
Kenyan gaffer Jacob Mulee, who took charge of the Harambee Stars at that 2004 AFCON finals, and returned for three more stints after that tournament, has slipped under the radar in the past decade.
Algeria’s Rabaa Saadane guided his country at that 2004 Nations Cup finals but has been keeping a very low profile since his ill-fated romance with the Yameni national team collapsed after just 10 days in 2011 because of financial constraints.
Badou Zaki took his Morocco to the final of that 2004 AFCON tournament, only to lose 1-2 to hosts Tunisia, and coaches his country’s top-flight league side Difaa Hassani El Jadidi. The landscape, then like now, still has a lot of French influence — with seven of their coaches in charge of national teams here — but the African coaches have also been making huge strides and nine of the teams here are under the guidance of coaches from the continent.